Budapest - Hungarian Goulash

If you come from Paris to Budapest you think you are in Moscow. But if you go from Moscow to Budapest you think you are in Paris.     Gyorgy Ligeti, Hungarian Composer

My visit to Budapest was in 2000 and it has remained in the forefront of my travel memories ever since. I intend to revisit Hungary’s capital again soon; there is so much to see in a city that with such a rich history.

I stayed in the Citadel Hotel at the top of Gellért Hill. The citadel had been built in 1851 by the Habsburgs with the intent to threaten the Hungarians. It has since been converted to a tourist centre and hostel. Our room, the dormitory, was absolutely enormous. The window was a narrow affair set into the thick stone walls. Standing on the walls of the Citadel we could see the Danube stretching away like a grey-blue ribbon curling around district of Pest; the two sides of the city united and divided by the ceaseless river.
Budapest at night from Gellért Hill.
Author: Christian Mehlführer,
Published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Lined up against the farthest bank between two bridges was a flotilla of pleasure boats. Sliding along the river is a wonderful way to see the vista of the Budapest. We passed under the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, a suspension bridge which was the first permanent bridge to span the Danube in Budapest.

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge connects Roosevelt Square on the Pest side to Adam Clark Square on the Buda side. From Adam Clark Square it is just a short hop on the Castle Hill Funicular to Buda Castle atop of Castle Hill. The area around the castle is known as the Castle District and houses medieval, baroque and nineteenth century living quarters and public buildings. Roosevelt Square on the Pest side is close to Gresham Palace, a neo-classical palace, now a hotel.
 Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Author: b k from Freehold, NJ, USA (
Published under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Marx and Engels - Memento Park
Author: Ferran Cornellà
Published under the under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
On the outskirts of the city is the greatest reminder of Hungary’s communist period – the Budapest Memento Park. With the fall of the Communist rule in 1989 the symbolic statues of that time were removed from the city centre to the park. It is an eye-opener to see just how much effort was made in the propaganda effort.

I do like an opportunity to relax where possible and Budapest was ten days into a fifteen day whistle-stop tour of Europe; that meant that a trip to the spa was in order. I chose the Gellert Baths as they were closest but with the natural springs and wells under the city, there are around 50 spas and pools to choose from supplied with the warm, mineral waters.

After a day of sightseeing, particularly in winter, there can be nothing better than a warming bowl of the dish that Hungary is possibly most known for – Goulash. A heavy soup, rather than a stew, it is made with beef and onions and Hungarian paprika. Combining the goulash with the dumplings would make a hearty main dish. There are a number of variations to goulash; as with most dishes every cook has their own way of preparing it. I like to make a veritable meal of my soups hence the number of ingredients in my soup.


Following on from Czech dumplings of the last post is the Hungarian Goulash (gulyás). Combining the goulash with the dumplings would make a hearty main dish.

Ingredients (for 4 persons)
600 g beef shin or shoulder, or any tender part of the beef cut into 2x2 cm cubes
2 tablespoons oil or lard
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1-2 celery leaves
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 1 tbs. tomato paste
2 fresh green peppers
2-3 medium potatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika powder
1 teaspoon ground caraway seed
1 bay leaf
ground black pepper and salt according to taste
water – enough to cover the ingredients. This will vary depending on the size of your pot

  1.  Heat up the oil or lard in a pot and braise the chopped onions in it until they get a nice golden brown colour. 
  2. Sprinkle the braised onions with paprika powder while stirring them to prevent the paprika from burning.
  3.  Add the beef cubes and and sauté them until they start to brown slightly.
  4. The meat will probably let out its own juice, let the beef-cubes simmer in it while adding the grated or crushed and chopped garlic (grated garlic has stronger flavour), the ground caraway seed, some salt and ground black pepper, the bay leaf, pour water enough to cover the content of the pan and let it simmer on low heat for a while.
  5. When the meat is half-cooked (approx. in 1,5 hour, but it can take longer depending on the type and quality of the beef) add the diced carrots, parsnip and the potatoes and the celery leaf. You may have to add some more (2-3 cups) water too.
  6. When the vegetables and the meat are almost done add the tomato cubes and the sliced green peppers. Let it cook on low heat for another few minutes.

Hungarian Goulash
Author:  Ralf Roletschek (talk).
Reproduced under licence:

Hints and Tips

To thicken the soup leave the lid off for the final stage.

Budapest Tourist Information Available in English, Deutsch, Magyar.


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