When dining in Hungary, expect big flavours, hearty meals and a cultural experience that locals take pride in. Paprika plays a major role in numerous dishes. A few authentic savoury dishes that you simply must try include: the aforementioned ‘gulyás’ or goulash; a deep-fried flat bread known as ‘lángos’, which is usually topped with cheese, garlic sauce, sour cream or meat; ‘töltött káposzta’ (cooked cabbage leaves with a spicy filling of rice and minced pork); and ‘túrós csusza’, where the savoury version consists of pasta accompanied by a type of cottage cheese and crispy bacon bits, while the sweet take on this dish swaps the bacon for powdered sugar and cream.
Sweet pastries and layered cakes are highly popular with Hungarians. ‘Kürtőskalács’ or ‘chimney cake’ – a spiral-shaped bread, coated in all manner of delights such as cinnamon, sugar, coconut, or cocoa, is aptly names as it looks like a chimney but is also baked over charcoal. Other divine desserts that must be tried are: ‘rétes’ – the Hungarian take on strudel where a log-shaped pastry is covered with powdered sugar and packed with rich fruit fillings; ‘Dobostorta’ also known as Dobos cake (taking the name of its creator – the famous confectioner József Dobos) which is a chocolate-lover’s dream; and ‘gesztenyepüré’ – a chestnut, sugar and rum purée, served with whipped cream. Sometimes the line between main meal and dessert becomes blurred with dishes like ‘meggyleves’ - a pink-coloured soup made of sour cherries, sugar and cream that could be a dessert but is so satisfying, it also can be considered a full meal.