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Two Primary Flavors of "Hungarian Goulash": Rich Beefy Savor & Fruity Sweet Paprika

Next week, COMFORT KETO is serving another popular European classic: The "Hungarian Goulash". Chef Janine's ketogenic interpretation of this hearty stew combines two primary flavors: A deeply rich, beefy savor paired with the distinctive fruity sweetness of the aromatic bright red Hungarian paprika. That duo of starring roles is supported by onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and small, sweet bell peppers. Add the slightly astringent, aniseed flavor of caraway seeds, and it’s easy to see why Hungary would award this dish with national status.

According to late Anthony Bourdain, this dish deserves to be considered as one of the world’s best beefy blessings. For this delicious dish, Chef Janine follows his recommendation: "The beef develops the best flavor when it is cooked with onion and lard." Leaving a pleasant warmth in your stomach, it is truly perfect for the remaining chilly days of winter. It is surely nothing like the one your mom served it back in the 80s -which was surely "Hungarian Goulash in name only."

Chef Janine serves the Hungarian goulash with a side of cheesy scalloped rutabaga.

Roots Of Goulash

Goulash (“gulyás” means shepherd in Hungarian) is Hungary's most well known dish. Usually eaten as a main course, it is a cross between a soup and a stew. It is served in the nation's homes, and also found on the soup section of restaurant menus across the world.

Goulash's traditional nomadic roots go as far back as the 9th century when the Turkic warriors, the Huns (thus the name Hungary), the Mongols, and later the Turks occupied the wild grassland of the Great Hungarian Plain until they were expelled in 1699. For centuries, the nomadic herdsman would season meat with onions and local herbs, cook the meat in cauldrons over open fire until all the juice was gone. They would dry out the cooked meat and store it away for later use. They would boil up and add water to the dried meat in order to create a simple stew.

Goulash Requires Hungarian Paprika!!

Chili powder comes in dozens of varieties, each with a distinct color and flavor. Hungarian paprika is only one of a large number of dried and ground chili powders.

And chili powders are not interchangeable: Cayenne pepper is hot; pimentón from Spain is smoked; guajillo, ancho, pasilla, and other powders from Mexico have distinct flavors; and the good old American chili powder contains considerable amounts of ground cumin.

Hungarian paprika is crucial to Hungarian cuisine for achieving the traditional flavor profile. It is the authentic form of dried and powdered chili peppers in Hungary. Hungary’s chili growing season with relatively low temperature gives Hungarian paprika its distinctive sweetness and bright red color. When those same peppers grow in warmer environments, the paprika made from them is a darker red and less sweet.

In addition to the powdered forms of the spice, Hungarian paprika is also sold in paste form which is typically packaged in a tube or small jar. You may want to read more about Hungarian paprika at this link:

Where Do Chilies Originally Come From?

In the 18th century, chilies were introduced from Middle America, probably Mexico, to Europe. Chilies were first grown in walled royal palace gardens as ornamentals for their flowers and hollow berries that ripened from green to shades of yellow and red. In the 19th century, the peasants developed the method of pounding the chilies into a mortar and/or dry and crush the chilies into the red powder; and "paprika" was born. Paprika is actually the Hungarian word for pepper and comes from the same Greek root, which is piperi.

Hungarians bred new species of chilies and developed them gradually into their defining spice and also used them as medicine. The red powder was eventually added in abundance to goulash as an essential ingredient of this dish. This mildly spicy peasant dish became famous across Europe for leaving a pleasant warmth in the stomach. Tomatoes were included in the goulash during the first half of the 20th century.

To buy paprika in Budapest, the Central Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) on the Pest side of the Szabadság Bridge is well worth a visit. With its three levels of stalls and stands flooded with light from soaring windows, it is a cathedral to food.

What Are Some Of The Health Benefits Of Chili Peppers?

The health benefits of all chili peppers are due to the compound capsaicin. Read this article on capsaicin to see more of the benefits of this compound, and you’ll see why herbal supplements made out of chili peppers are so popular.

  • It’s a top natural pain relief treatment.

  • It’s a great metabolism booster.

  • It’s an effective arthritis treatment.

  • Certain studies show it as an effective appetite suppressor.

  • Other studies show that capsaicin may kill prostate cancer cells.

  • It may cure heartburn and help clear ear infections.

  • Best of all, there are no known side effects to taking capsaicin.


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