Hungarian cuisine has been influenced by the French, Germans, Italians and Turks, not to mention the Polish, Slavs and Asians. The result is a rich blend of one-pot meals cooked for hours over open fires and pastries that out-beat any dish in no time. They are well-known for their frequent use of eggs and sour cream. One particular ingredient that is found in most of the Hungarian dishes is Paprika, adding an unusual taste to them.
The most famous of Hungarian dishes is surely goulash which is also known in Hungary as 'gulyas' or 'gulyasleves'. If you have had chance earlier to taste foreign adaptation of the dish then you might be surprised when you taste its traditional version. Hungarian goulash is prepared as a soup, using beef shoulder, shin or shank, together with other ingredients such as onions, potatoes, hot peppers and tomatoes, by slow cooking in a cauldron and has a very definite taste of paprika. During the cooking process, the soup becomes very thick, which is probably why many people think of goulash as a stew.
Goulash is such reputed Hungarian cuisine that both have become synonym to each other now. Anywhere in the world you mention the name goulash it is immediately associated with Hungary with no question asked. Hungarian goulash is neither a soup nor a stew, it is somewhere in between; though in Hungary it is considered rather to be a soup than a stew, so when you look for it among Soups on restaurant menus.
Hungarian goulash is traditional dish prepared using a cauldron known as a 'bograc' over an open fire. First chunks of beef, usually shin, shoulder or shank, are seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika. The meat is browned, and then chopped onions are added. Next stock or water is added to make a soup. The soup is slowly simmered for a long period, and as a result of the collagen in the meat turning to gelatin, will gradually thicken. Depending on the exact recipe, other ingredients may also be added, such as tomatoes, chopped potatoes, and hot peppers. Herbs are used for flavoring, and some chefs may also add a little white wine or vinegar when cooking.
Traditional Hungarian goulash soup recipes comprises of a beef dish cooked with onions, Hungarian red paprika powder, tomatoes and some green pepper. Potato and noodles are also added according to some recipes. The other definition of goulash says that it is occasionally used to mean any mixture of diverse things. This is something you would not want to devoid your taste bud of; you need to have it to know what you have been missing all along.