Christmas is approaching with its own scents and tastes. What do Hungarians traditionally eat at Christmas time? Of course we have our typical dishes, let’s see which they are!
“Halászlé”, as this traditional dish is called in Hungarian (translates to Fishermens’ soup), is a bright red hot soup, prepared with generous amounts of hot paprika and carp or mixed river fish. It is a popular celebratory dish, often served during Christmas Eve. The soup was originally prepared by fishermen along the Danube and Tisza rivers, using fresh fish, most often carp, catfish, pike, or perch. In some regions, such as Baja, the soup is served with pasta, while in other regions sour cream is added to achieve a creamy consistency of the soup. A slice of bread and a glass of white wine is the perfect accompaniment to “halászlé”, as they both ease the spicy taste of the hot paprika added to the stew.
Hungarians serve Cabbage Roll, “Töltött káposzta”, during the periods of time near Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The rolls are covered with cooked cabbage leaves, and are filled with minced pork meat. All its variants contain the traditional minced pepper, paprika, and are served with sour cream on top. This dish shows the Turkish influence on the Hungarian cuisine, as cabbage roll spread thanks to their influence in the 18th century. Usually cabbage roll is prepared in a bigger quantity at once, as it can be kept for several days, and its taste gets better with the passing of time.
“Beigli” is the most popular Christmas dessert which is “obligatory” on every table on Christmas Eve. Beigli is a pastry roll traditionally filled with poppy seed or walnut. If well prepared, the dense filling makes more than half of the cake by weight, and gives it a rich and special taste. It is a common obligation to taste each other’s beigli among family members, neighbours and friends, and so is to praise it. There are two traditional filling varieties; the poppy seed which promoted fertility and good marriage, and the walnut filling which was believed to bring good health and prosperity. As a new trend, a chestnut-filled variant is emerging, mainly among the younger generations. The beigli rolls can be kept for a long time, and later can be enjoyed at any occasion.
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