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pörkölt or paprikás?
“A pörkölt paprikás hús szafttal,
a paprikás ugyanez tejföllel,
a gulyáspörkölt hosszúlével és krumplival,
gulyásleves is a soup,
a tokány hús szafttal de nem jellemző rá a paprika.”

This all makes sense in Hungarian. Except I call my csirkepörkölt paprikás csirke. My father would have said “mert trehány vagy fiam”. Except that I am still not sure how to translate csirkepörkölt into English without adding to the confusion. I call my csirkepörkölt chicken paprika when in fact it isn’t a paprikás. If you can figure out the differences... I welcome a different opinion.

So what is it pörkölt or paprikás? And what is gulyás? Is it a soup or a stew? Both actually... And what is tokány?  The paprika cuisine all starts with meat, fat, onions, salt and of course paprika. Later on other stuff can be added or not. The essential difference between paprikás and pörkölt is that paprikás has sour cream and maybe flour for thickening, while pörkölt does not have thickening or sour cream. However sour cream is always served alongside the pörkölt as well. But I still don’t know what to call my csirkepörkölt.
This is the type of dish that the whole world calls “gulash”. But this is incorrect. Pörkölt is always cooked on the stove. You can use beef, veal, pork, chicken, lamb; it has to be dry stewed with minimal additional liquid. Basically you are aiming to cook the meat in its own juices. Pörkölt is NEVER thickened; the sauce should be quite thick though and never add anything else to the sauce. But this is not a stew. The thick juice, what we call “szaft” is just thick juice and not a gravy. Always serve pörkölt with sour cream on the side.
This starts out being a pörkölt, but in the end sour cream and flour is added for thickening.
Gulyás, gulyáspörkölt or bográcsgulyás is not a soup, it is a stew. This is essentially pörkölt with vegetables. It can be cooked on the stove or in a cauldron. Always serve them with sour cream on the side.
GULYÁSLEVES This is a soup, that starts out as a pörkölt and then considerable water or stock is added along with various vegetables and chopped potatoes. It can be cooked on the stove or in a cauldron. Always serve it with sour cream on the side.
TOKÁNY This is like ragout. The meat is cut into long, thin slices. The spice is usually black pepper, marjoram and very little paprika if any. Once again, this is cooked with the dry stewing method, just like pörkölt.

All of this aside, I still don’t know how to translate csirkepörkölt into a language that has no paprika culture to speak of. The confusion continues.



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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!