Christmas in Hungary is not the same without the traditional festive menu.
On the Budapestbylocals.com website, a writer has detailed how on Christmas Eve Hungarians usually have fish soup made from carp, stuffed cabbage then a pastry roll filled with poppy seed or walnut – a beigli.
Here, the website has put together the famous recipes to help you join in the festivities.
1) Hungarian Fishermen’s Soup (Halászlé)
Ingredients for about 6 portions
- 1000 g different type of small fish (freshwater fish)
- 1500 g carp (whole or fillets)
- 2 tablespoons lard
- 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika powder
- 2 large onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 big potato, peeled
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tomato, peeled and diced
- 1 egg and flour for the noodles
- 1. Clean the fish.
- 2. Remove its teeth, tail, fins and scales with a sharp knife.
- 3. Wash it with cold water.
- 4. Open up the carp at its belly and remove the chitterlings.
- 5. Slice it up for 2 cm thick slices and salt them.
- 6. Cut out the eyes from the head.
- 7. Peel the onions and dice them.
- 8. Peel the potato.
- 9. Dice the tomato.
- 1. First of all, we make a fish stock from the small fish and the head of the carp.
- 2. Heat up the lard in a large pan and braise the diced onions.
- 3. Sprinkle the onion with paprika and pour immediately about 3 L water into the pan to prevent paprika from getting burnt.
- 4. Put the small fish, the head of the carp, the diced tomato and salt in the pan and cook it until the meat comes of the fish bone.
- 5. Sieve the stock and bring in to the boil.
- 6. If you find it a bit thick, add some water.
- 7. Put the salted carp slices in the fish stock, add slices of hot, green pepper, some salt if necessary and bring it to the boil.
- 8. Grate the potato and add it to the soup. Cook it for 1-2 minutes.
- 9. Beat up an egg add 1-2 tablespoons of flour and mix it until you get a batter. It should not be neither too thick nor too thin.
- 10. Salt it a bit and cut nice ball shapes into the boiling soup with the help of a spoon. Cook it for 2-3 minutes.
Hungarian fish soup is a substantial meal, especially this version with noodles and grated potato.
2) Stuffed Cabbage
- 6-8 sauerkraut leaves
- 1000 g chopped sauerkraut
- 100 g (2 cups) pearl barley or rice
- 400 g minced pork
- 1-2 onions
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1-2 tbs lard or oil
- 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika powder
- ground black pepper
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 200 ml sour cream
Make the stuffing:
- 1. Braise half the diced onions in lard, add the minced pork, the pearl barley (rice) and sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon paprika.
- 2. Add the mashed clove of garlic, some salt, ground black pepper and stir well.
- 3. Place some stuffing on the sauerkraut leaves and make nice rolls.
- 4. Braise the remained onion in oil.
- 5. Remove the pan from the heat, add 1 teaspoon paprika powder, half of the chopped sauerkraut and the bay leaves.
- 6. Place the stuffed rolls on it and cover it with the other half of the sauerkraut.
- 7. Add some water and cook it until the cabbage and the stuffing is tender (approx. 1,5-2 hours).
- 8. Remove the stuffed rolls.
- 9. Mix sour cream with 1-2 tablespoons of flour and add to the sauerkraut and cook it for 1-2 minutes, dilute it with some water if necessary. The name of this last process is habarás in Hungarian and it thickens the meal.
- 10. Place the cabbage rolls back in the pan.
- 11. We have this dish with sour cream and slices of white bread.
3) Beigli – Pastry Rolls with Walnut or Poppy Seed Stuffing
A traditional Hungarian Christmas Eve dinner is not complete without beigli.
For the dough
- 500 g flour
- 150 ml sour cream
- 250 g butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 20 g fresh yeast
- 1 egg
- 50 g castor sugar
- a pinch of salt
For the poppy seed stuffing
- 200 g ground poppy seed
- 150 g castor sugar mixed in 100 ml water
- 1 sachet (10g) of vanilla sugar
- 50 g raisins soaked in 50 ml rum
- grated rind of a well-washed lemon and lemon juice
- 1 coffee-spoon ground cinnamon
- 1 coffee-spoon ground cloves
Prepare the poppy seed filling
- 1. Bring the water with the sugar in it to the boil.
- 2. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour onto the ground poppy seed.
- 3. Mix in the drained raisins, the vanilla sugar and ground cinnamon and cloves.
- 4. Add grated rind of a lemon and 1 tablespoon of its juice.
For the walnut stuffing
- 1. Bring the water with the sugar in it to th
- 400 g ground walnuts
- 250 g castor sugar mixed in about 1 dl milk
- 50 g raisins soaked in rum
- grated rind of a well-washed orange
- 1 sachet (10g) vanilla sugar
Prepare the walnut filling
- 1. Bring the milk with the sugar in it to the boil.
- 2. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour onto the ground walnuts.
- 3. Mix in the drained raisins, the vanilla sugar and grated rind of an orange.
Prepare the dough
- 1. Warm the sour cream a bit. It should be lukewarm.
- 2. Add the egg to the sour cream and mix it.
- 3. Crumble yeast in the mixture.
- 4. Add diced butter to the flour, sprinkle it with 50 g castor sugar and a pinch of salt.
- 5. Mix in sour cream with the yeast in it and knead a dough.
- 6. Make 4 loaves, wrap them up in cling film and let them rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours (even better, if you leave it there for a whole night).
- 7. Knead the loaves a bit.
- 8. Roll them out into a 1/2 cm thick rectangle on a floured board.
- 9. Spread filling onto the dough, leave out a 2-3 cm strip at the longer side.
- 10. Fold back a 2-3 cm strip at the shorter sides (prevents the stuffing from coming out).
- 11. Roll the dough up and place them in buttered oven dish.
- 12. Brush the top of the rolls with slightly beaten egg yolk and let them rest for 30 minutes.
- 13. Spread the rolls with egg white, it gives a nice glaze.
- 14. Let rolls rest for another half an hour.
- 15. Prick the top and the sides of the rolls with a fork, it prevents cracking.
- 16. Bake the beigli in preheated oven at 180 °C for about 40 minutes until the top gets a nice brown colour. In the first 20 minutes do not open the oven.
- 17. Let pastry cool in the oven dish. Cut the rolls into slices if you want to serve them immediately.
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