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Street food the way we like it



Hungarian cuisine has relatively few iconic dishes that can be eaten on the street or while walking. Beach dishes, such as lángos, chimney cakes, pancakes, fried hake or boiled corn are some dominant examples of this type of food. Of course, there are also Hungarian versions of typical street food dishes, although these have surfaced quite recently. These include the Mangalica pulled pork sandwich, the duck liver burger, the hotdog stuffed with sausage and red cabbage, the burrito made with ...

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Lángos

Lángos is basically a fried flatbread made with a soft bread dough, consumed on its own or with various toppings. The criteria for a quality lángos are for the dough to be crisp in the middle, thick around the edges, baked through everywhere and sufficiently crispy on the surface, yet soft and fluffy inside. Also important is to have just the right amount of toppings, so as not to soak it, but still feel the flavour. Every child loves it and, like most street foods, it’s impossible to eat with good table manners.

Basic lángos is made by combining yeast with a pinch of sugar and lukewarm milk and then kneading flour and salt, lukewarm water and a little oil. This is fried in a minute in extremely hot oil. It can be eaten on its own or with a variety of toppings. The most typical are garlic, cheese, sour cream, or cheese and sour cream. But of course, the dough base can handle just about anything. So you’ll find lángos topped with meat, sausage, ham & mushroom, smoked cheese, red onion & sour cream, sheep curd & dill, lecsó or aubergine, stuffed with marrow or sausage, or even filled with sweet cottage cheese, jam and powdered sugar. There is one exception among toppings and fillings, and that is cabbage. In this case, the shredded cabbage is mixed into the dough itself and the lángos is then fried together with the cabbage. Maybe a lángos topped with fish is the only version not seen to date.

 

Lángos

Potato pancakes

This fast food, bearing about 70 different names such as lapcsánka or tócsni, is very similar to lángos, yet fundamentally different in that it is based on grated potatoes. Accordingly, the quick and simple version contains only potatoes and flour and, of course, salt and pepper, while the more gourmet versions are made with onions, garlic, milk and eggs added. Eventually, it is fried in oil just like lángos. It is usually eaten with sour cream, but also increasingly used as a side dish. It is most likely that the name tócsni is derived from the word tótlángos, while the most widely used lapcsánka is a distorted phonetical form of the Slovak “hlebcsánka” referring to the food’s two-dimensional nature, similar to the independent term lapotyka. The name rösti, which is also common, is of Swiss origin.

Potato pancakes

Chimney cake

A sweet version of food you can eat on the street is the chimney cake, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Chimney cake is a strip twisted out of a sweet leavened dough, which is rolled up on a large wooden pin and baked until golden brown, turning constantly. The process is somewhat similar to roasting doner kebabs, gyros or shawarma on a vertically rotating skewer. Before baking, it is rolled in granulated sugar and drizzled with hot butter, so that the sugar sticking to the surface of the dough is caramelised and forms a shiny, crispy coating. The finished cake is rolled in cinnamon mixed with sugar, vanilla sugar, cocoa powder or ground walnut, hazelnuts or maybe poppy seeds while it is still hot. The end result is an irresistible delicacy whose scent floats far away. The name is extremely appropriate because a chimney is actually formed inside the cake, which means that the surface of the cake is much larger, with a much crispier outer coating than with a conventional cake. The predecessor of the chimney cake can be found in the country as far back as the 16th century, but the cake in its current form was developed in Szeklerland in Transylvania. It was included on the list of Hungarikums due to its popularity.

Chimney cake

Meats

Typical Hungarian street food with meat grew out of food stalls or could be eaten at the stands of butcher’s shops. People therefore still happily stop off at these places for a good fried sausage, black pudding or liverwurst, accompanied by some sourdough pickles. And this is also the main treasure trove of a major winter hit, aspic jelly (called kocsonya in Hungarian), which is basically an overcooled thick pork soup with added pork meat and vegetables. Of course, this is no fast food in the sense that its preparation is extremely time-consuming, but it is great to take away and easy to eat on the go. 

Fried sausage

Fish

Fish & chips in Hungary means the hake mentioned earlier. This is one of the most popular fish dishes in the country, probably even beating fish soup in popularity. The real contradiction here is that hake is a sea fish that is certainly not native to landlocked Hungary.

Fish

Cup foods

The range of foods that can be eaten on the street has changed considerably in the last 50 years. A bumpy road has led from the dairy bars of the 70s, through the cold delicatessen shops of the 80s, to the current “free-from” and vegan selection. Two dishes, however, have persisted throughout: vegetable stews and soups. The former are obviously less typical in the street food category, but the latter are experiencing a renaissance, and include such classics as tomato soup with alphabet pasta, a traditional Hungarian childhood favourite. Enjoy your meal!

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