Following her first article on Hungarian cuisine How to Be Vegetarian in Hungary, Zsófi is sharing her favourite Hungarian recipes to suit a vegetarian diet. Each great recipe explores the vegetarian version of each of her most-loved comfort food dishes, each based on a recipe of traditional Hungarian food.
Stay tuned for her vegetarian goulash recipe, filled with sweet paprika, red bell peppers and fresh tomatoes. (Of course, there will be a method for turning this into vegan Hungarian goulash, too!)
Home is Where the Rakott Krumpli Is
A long while ago now, I published an article on how to be vegetarian in Hungary. This article is very close to my heart: I wanted it to be about food, the flavours of my childhood, the smells my nose can recognise from anywhere, the Hungarian ingredients my eyes search for in every store, the traditional Hungarian dishes that will always make my mouth water. And it was about food, but somehow, it was also a little bit more than that. It told of my complex relationship with my home country, it betrayed my secret longing for a home, and bore testament to my nostalgia for my childhood in Hungary.
It was written at a desk in Birmingham, beside windows that revealed nothing but rainy weather for days. But my eyes, nose, ears, and taste buds, they were in Miskolc, in a white and yellow-tiled kitchen, 13 years old, watching my mother’s hands move, wiping the sweat from my face, convinced that Hungarian food is not Hungarian Food, it is just food, the only food.
I am now home again in Hungary. I’m sitting in my parents’ living room, the TV is on, filling my head with words I had long forgotten, pushing out some English ones already (I have had to google English translations four times already in the process of writing this article), and my mother’s cooking.
This isn’t our old white and yellow-tiled kitchen, it’s smaller, a real big city kitchen in its space efficiency and shelves at annoying heights, but the smells, they disperse just as easily in it, already making their way towards me and the TV, already telling me I’m home.
It makes me think: Hungarian cuisine, like any other, is best when it’s homemade. This is why below I have collected some Hungarian recipes for you, all meat-free, of course, and all easy to prepare with just a few ingredients and a little bit of time. I hope you try them and enjoy them, and think of home – maybe yours, maybe mine. They are all hearty, delicious dishes, approved by the best chef I know, my mother.
Read my last article…
Layered Potatoes or Rakott Krumpli
This layered potato dish is an absolute favourite in my family. I love it, my brother loves it, my mother and my father love it. My father, in fact, is not much for cooking, and even if he were, after the trauma of arriving home from school to a house filled wall to wall with thick grey smoke and finding on the stove a pot with black ashes of what once used to be two frankfurters, we were all reluctant to let him try again.
But just as our house eventually aired out all the smoke, our fear also dissipated, and it was with this very dish that my father tried his hands out again in the kitchen, as a generous and very delicious ‘welcome home’ gift to me over Christmas last year. This is really the very best Hungary has to offer with its fresh potatoes, spicy sausages, and creamy sour cream.
Rakott Krumpli Ingredients:
8 medium-sized potatoes, boiled
10 eggs, hard-boiled
10 vegan sausages or frankfurters, sliced
5 spoonsful of sour cream (or vegan sour cream)
grated choose to top it off
salt and pepper to taste
two tablespoons of olive oil
Rakott Krumpli Method:
1. Do not peel the potatoes. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the whole potatoes and boil them for about 30 minutes or until they are soft. Once they are ready, take them off the hob, wait until they cool so as not to burn your hand (believe me, do not skip this step), and peel the skin off. The skin should come off easy without the use of a knife, you can use your hands. Once peeled, slice the potatoes and put them aside.
2. In the meantime, put another pot full of water to boil. Hard boil the eggs. This will take about 15 minutes. Once they are ready, turn off the cooker and remove the eggshells. Slice the eggs and put them aside.
3. Chop the vegan frankfurters or sausages in rough circles and put it aside.
4. Make the sauce using sour cream (or vegan sour cream) and a raw egg yolk. Season it with salt. Mix it together with a fork.
5. Now you have all the ingredients, it’s time for the layering. Take a casserole dish and butter it so it doesn’t stick. Start layering the sliced potatoes at the bottom. Put the sliced hard boiled eggs on top. Finally, add the frankfurters. Top it off with the sour cream mixture.
6. Repeat Step 5 until you run out of ingredients. Once you are finished with the layers, top off the dish with the rest of the sour cream and grated cheese.
7. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until the cheese is golden brown on top. Serve with sour cream (or vegan sour cream).
Sidenote for vegans: This dish may seem full of dairy, but believe me, you only have to make a couple of alterations to enjoy it. Instead of eggs, I use sliced tofu. For the sour cream mixture, I mix some coconut milk, just a few spoonfuls, with paprika and salt. Sour cream and coconut milk may seem completely different, but this latter mirrors the sour cream-egg yolk mixture’s consistency perfectly. Finally, you can top off the dish with vegan cheese.
Hungarian Ratatouille or Lecsó
A very simple dish, and a wonderfully naturally vegan one. There is absolutely no trace of meat, dairy, or eggs in Hungarian ratatouille’s original recipe, although many times it can be served with egg noodles for lunch or scrambled eggs for breakfast. Not to worry, pairing ratatouille with bread instead of the non-vegan alternatives above is a winning combination, and I highly recommend it. Due to its simplicity, one thing that is key to consider is the quality of your raw ingredients; lecsó is only as good as the tomatoes and peppers that it is cooked with.
6 yellow, green or red bell peppers
1 teaspoon of paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1. Chop the onions and tomatoes. Deseed the peppers and chop them as well.
2. Put a pan on the hob and heat two tablespoons of oil. Put the onions in and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Make sure not to burn them. Add the paprika at this point.
3. Next, add the tomatoes and the peppers and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve with egg noodles or fresh bread.
Green Pea Soup or Borsóleves
As I have said many times before, and will probably say it many times again, there is nothing Hungarians do better than soup. This one is one of my favourites, and my only request upon coming home is always a big bowl of my mum’s green pea soup.
1 onion, whole
450 g frozen green peas
2 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
bouillon to taste, if necessary
for the galuska (soup noodle): 1 egg, three tablespoons of flour, salt, water
1. Peel and slice the carrots and parsnips.
2. Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the carrot, the parsnip, the whole onion, and the 450 g peas. For 5 minutes, let it simmer on medium heat.
3. Add 3 cups of water, season it with salt and black pepper and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, turn the heat down a little, put the lid on, and leave it to cook until the carrot and parsnip seem cooked. If necessary, add bouillon here.
4. In the meantime, prepare the galuska. Mix the egg, two spoonfuls of water, a pinch of salt, and just enough flour to make it dough-like. Cut this mixture into small pieces and once the carrot and the parsnip are cooked, add it to the soup. Cook it for a further 5 minutes, take it off the heat, and enjoy!