What’s in a name? – Pepper and Gulyáscreme

She comes from Lower Bavaria, as her accent makes unmistakably clear – my colleague sitting opposite me. But there’s something else not so Bavarian about her, which you notice when she has to spell her name. Again and again and again. “Yes, really with a “cs” at the end.” “Yes, that’s right, that’s more or less how you pronounce it.” This is because her name is Hungarian, just (by a remarkable coincidence) like her parents. This triggers my recipe-hunting instincts. After all, it’s quite common for German international cuisine to have almost nothing to do with the “authentic” international cuisine as eaten in its native country – so I want to know straight away if this is also the case with goulash, which is very popular in Germany. We-ell, says my colleague, the dishes are more or less comparable, but the nomenclature would appear to have had something go wrong with it as it travelled up the Danube.


The name goulash (Hungarian: gulyás [gujásch]) was originally a designation for cattle-herders. They travelled huge distances, from the Hungarian Puszta to the European cattle markets in Vienna, Nuremberg or Venice, making sure that there was always some livestock ready to slaughter available, from which they could cook this stew.

The Hungarian “gulyás”, though, nowadays doesn’t really resemble what we here in Germany call “goulash”. It’s much more like what we Germans call “goulash soup”. But what is called “goulash” in Germany is also known in Hungary nevertheless, namely as “pörkölt”. This term can be translated as “lightly roasted”, and is a stew, eaten with various side dishes, typically with Austrian-style gnocchi (Hungarian: “nokedli” (presumptively derived from the Austro-Hungarian era) or “galuska” [Galuschka] (the authentic Hungarian designation). The difference between the two recipes is that the “pörkölt” is reduced much more, and therefore has a much thicker sauce. “Gulyásleves” [gujáschlewesch] (literally translated: goulash soup) in its turn denotes a clear soup in which potatoes and vegetables are used as ingredients in addition to the meat.


For anyone who’s now keen to cook a genuinely Hungarian recipe, called pörkölt – also a sort of goulash – with gnocchi and cucumber salad, we have a recipe here – and for everyone who is now suffering from appellation overload, all I can say is: cook it, try it, enjoy it – and don’t worry about what it’s called.


Ingredients for the pörkölt (for 4 people):

1 kg of beef

2 onions

2 cloves of garlic

2 peppers (Hungarian pointed or red peppers)

200 g of tomatoes (or tomato purée)

1 carrot

2 tbsp of sweet paprika powder and/or paprika cream “piros arany

150 ml of red wine

1 tbsp of hot spice paste “”erös pista” (or some other chilli paste)

1 knife tip of caraway seeds

Salt and pepper to taste

If obtainable: 1 tbsp of EL gulyás cream (spice paste for gulyás)

Olive oil for the pan


Wash the meat, pat it dry, and cut it into pieces measuring approx. 2 x 2 cm. Peel the onions and the garlic, and dice them finely. Peel the carrot, and cut it into coarse pieces; do the same with the tomatoes and the peppers. If you want, you can also peel the tomatoes and the peppers beforehand.

Heat up a pan with some olive oil in it, and fry the onions until they’re transparent. For this purpose, repeatedly add some water until you get a thickish mush. Then add the meat and sear it thoroughly. If you’re using tomato purée and paprika cream add these now as well. Stew the whole thing for 5 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients apart from salt and pepper. Simmer on medium heat for 1.5 to 2 hours. Check at intervals to make sure the meat doesn’t get burned, and add some more water if necessary.

Finally, season with salt and pepper.


Ingredients for gnocchi (nokedli / galuska):

500 g of flour

3 eggs

1 tsp of salt

1 tbsp of common wheat grains


Salt for the water used in boiling

1 tbsp of butter


Put the flour, eggs, salt and wheat grains in a bowl. Gradually add water and stir until you have a smooth dough. You will know if the dough has the right consistency when small bubbles form.

In parallel to this, boil water and season with salt. Grate the dough bit by bit into the boiling water. Make sure that you don’t have too many gnocchi in the pot, otherwise they’ll stick together. As soon as the gnocchi are floating on the surface, take them out with a slotted spoon, and repeat the procedure until all the dough has been boiled. Finally, stir a tablespoonful of butter into the finished dumplings while they are still hot.


Ingredients for the cucumber salad:

1 cucumber

1 tbsp of salt

1 tbsp of sugar (level)

1 tbsp of vinegar

200 g of sour cream

Pepper, paprika powder


Peel the cucumber and slice it finely. Add the salt, and let it stand for a few minutes. Then press the juice out of the cucumber slices.

Stir the sugar into the vinegar, and mix it with the sour cream and the cucumber. Garnish with some paprika powder and pepper.