Whenever I’m in one of those get-to-know-you situations, and I’m asked to say something interesting about myself, I always say, “My husband is from Hungary.” Then I get to answer questions about how we met and does he speak English and of course he does because I don’t speak Hungarian. It’s quaint and cute, and I love it.
Anyway, Hungarian food is one of those lost little treasures of the world. The flavor is rich and full of paprika and browned onions. Scents of goulash cooked over an open fire in the backyard wafts under my nose as do cherries sold by old ladies on the street, fresh-picked from their garden.
There is a lot of pride that goes into making the food, so don’t be disheartened if a Hungarian tells you that it’s not true Hungarian because you made it this way or that way. They’re right, it’s not. But who cares? It tastes divine. At least that’s what I told myself recently when I made this dish for the Austin Hungarian Christmas party.
A crowd favorite meal among our guests is Gomba Paprikas (gome’-bah pah’-pree-kahsh), or Mushroom Paprika Stew. It’s truly very simple and can be made under an hour, cashew milk and all. Because this dish is traditionally made with sour cream and a lot of oil, I’ve had to modify it to fit our plant-strong diet. Not quite as Hungarian, but still divine.
Because the cashew milk does not have the exact effect on flavor as sour cream does, don’t leave out the vinegar.
Mushroom Paprika Stew
Serves 6-8 people
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. coconut oil
2 tbsp. Hungarian paprika (there’s a difference, but Whole Foods sells this Paprika)
2 15-oz. cans chopped tomatoes, drained
2 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 lbs. white or cremini mushrooms, chopped
3 c. water
2 c. cashew cream
3 roma tomatoes, sliced
2 c. cashews
1 1/2 c. water (add more if needed)
1 lb. whole wheat pasta shells (brown rice or quinoa pasta works just as well for the gluten-free)
Boil pasta shells for about 10 minutes.
In a large pan, brown onion in coconut oil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add seasonings and mushrooms. Stir frequently for 5 minutes.
Add water and chopped tomatoes. Cover and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
While simmering, blend the cashews and the water in a high speed blender until it’s the consistency of yogurt. Add more cashews to thicken it up, more water to thin it down.
Add cashew cream and vinegar and stir until heated through.
Turn off heat, and add cooked pasta shells to sauce and stir until covered in sauce. Add roma tomatoes for garnish.
What Hungarian dishes have you tried?