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Souvenir Shop for Hungarian Paprika in Budapest, then use your paprika to make an Easy Hungarian Goulash recipe
Paprika is an ideal Hungarian souvenir— it’s cheap, available everywhere and weighs next to nothing, making it a cinch to toss in your suitcase. Think you can get paprika back home? (If you’re here just looking for the goulash recipe, scroll down!)
Real Hungarian paprika sold in Hungary is nothing like the stuff you’ll find in the spice aisle of your grocery store– the freshness and potency of true Hungarian paprika blows away any supermarket brand. And this includes any imported brand that’s labelled “Hungarian”– it’s just not the same quality.
The Great Market Hall has stalls upon stalls of paprika– there is so much paprika that it can quickly get overwhelming. To navigate the market like a pro, just follow our paprika souvenir shopping tips.
1. First, narrow down your options by deciding what kind of paprika you want to buy. This could be a daunting task in and of itself– if you read the Wikipedia article on Hungarian paprika you’ll learn there are at least eight grades of Hungarian paprika alone. Or, you could skip the specifics (and difficult-to-pronounce Hungarian names) and just remember these three words– Sweet, Hot and Smoked.
2. Next, figure out much paprika you really need. Paprika powder goes stale in about a year, so there’s no point in stocking up if your use will be limited to sprinkling on finished dishes. Because I planned to make several large batches of goulash this winter, I came home with three bags of hot and a one bag each of sweet and smoked.
3. Decide how you want your Paprika packaged. Simple, utilitarian bags of paprika are the cheapest souvenir option, but you can also buy your paprika packed in pretty ceramic jars.
These pepper jars were tempting– and a great buy if you have a place to display them. But if you’re going to put your paprika away in a cabinet, stick with a more basic shape or you might regret it when you try to fit these peppers onto your spice rack.
4. If a plain bag of paprika is too boring to bring back as a gift, Budapest’s Great Market Hall has plenty of paprika gift pack sets. You can buy your paprika pre-bundled with a wooden spoon with a painted handle (perfect for stirring that goulash).
Many of the paprika gift sets come with tiny wooden scoops. Cute, but I’m not sure how useful these little scoops are– I prefer to use measuring spoons (and can see the scoop ending up lost in my kitchen drawer).
5. If you’re planning to use your paprika for goulash, consider buying goulash paste as an alternative.
Goulash pastes are quickly gaining popularity because they keep longer than fresh, powdered paprika.
There are two different kinds of goulash paste, so make sure you know which one you’re buying (the vendors were all very helpful). One goulash paste is pretty much only used to make goulash, while a second goulash paste is used more like a condiment on sandwiches. I bought one of each. While I haven’t experimented with using the paste to make goulash yet, I can confirm the condiment version is excellent as a sandwich spread.
The final step– use your souvenir paprika back home to make this easy Hungarian goulash recipe.
There is nothing worse than bringing souvenir foods back home, putting them in a cupboard, then finding them years later, unused and stale (or expired). Fortunately, I can help you use up that souvenir paprika by sharing a super easy Hungarian goulash recipe that I’ve been making for years.
Purists take note: true Hungarian goulash is soup-like in consistency with lots of vegetables (and a lot more chopping). The version I make (from an Austrian chef) is more like a rich stew and the only vegetables are onions, making prep a snap.
Easy Hungarian Goulash (adapted from Kurt Gutenbrunner’s recipe)
2.5 pounds Beef Shin meat (trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes)
3 Spanish onions, finely diced
1.5 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika (or more if you love paprika)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Marjoram
1 pinch ground Caraway seeds
1 Bay leaf
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
First, sauté the diced onions until caramelized, then add the garlic.
the tomato paste, marjoram and the paprika and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Take care not to scorch the paprika.
Unfortunately I haven’t tested out a vegetarian goulash version yet (do my vegetarian readers have any favorites?). For a meatless alternative, Hungarian paprika is also delicious sprinkled over deviled eggs.
Do you have any favorite recipes using Hungarian paprika? Share in the comments below!
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All photos copyright 2014 by Souvenir Finder and may not be used without express permission.