Hungarian Food - Levesek, Rostélyos, Töltött Zöldségfélék, and Káposzták mint Föetelek - The Four Crossbeams

The Four Crossbeams of Hungarian Cooking

Levesek (Soups)
Levesek (Soups)
Hungarian Food
Hungarian Food
Rostelyos (Grilled Meat)
Rostelyos (Grilled Meat)
Toltott Zoldsegfelek (Stuffed Vegetables)
Toltott Zoldsegfelek (Stuffed Vegetables)
Kaposztak mint Foetelek (Cabbage as a Main Dish)
Kaposztak mint Foetelek (Cabbage as a Main Dish)

Hungarian Food

Cast your vote for The Four Crossbeams

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Levesek, Rostélyos, Töltött Zöldségfélék and Káposzták mint Fötelek – The Four Crossbeams of Hungarian Cooking

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According to George Lang, in his classic cookbook, "Cuisine of Hungary ", "The four pillars of Hungarian cooking are gulyás, pörkölt, paprikás and tokány." Then I declare that the "four crossbeams " which span the " four pillars" are levesek (soups), rostélyos (braised steak), töltött zöldségfélék (stuffed vegetables and káposzták mint föetelek (cabbages as main dishes).

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1. Levesek - (Soups)

A Hungarian would sooner start his meal with a bowl of soup than with an appetizer or a salad. The soups in Hungary are hearty and often contain some form of meat and dumplings or noodles. In researching this topic, I readily found more than 40 distinct types of soup and that does not include regional variations. What follows is a list of some of the most interesting distinctly Hungarian soups:

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a.) Jókai Bableves - (Bean Soup a la Jokai)

- Named after the Hungarian novelist, Mór Jókai, this rich bean soup is made with a smoked pork hock, smoked sausage, carrots, celery root and parsley root and is finished with homemade csipetke (small dumplings) and sour cream.

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b.) Legenyfogo Kaposztaleves - (Gypsy Man-Catcher Soup)

- This Gypsy specialty includes cabbage, smoked chuck, onions, garlic and barley.

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c.) Halaszle - (Fisherman’s Soup)

  • This spicy fish soup is a specialty of the Danube and Tisza river regions of Hungary. A rich fish court bouillon is seasoned with onions, tomatoes, hot paprika, green pepper and chunks of fish.

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d.) Mecseki Betyargomboleves - (Mecsek Highwaymans Dumpling Soup)

  • This hearty soup is made with meat bones, carrots, parsley root and celery root. Then large pork filled potato dumplings are cooked in the boiling liquid and the soup is finished with sour cream mixed with egg yolk.

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e.) Palócleves – (Paloc Soup)

- This specialty of the Palóc region of Hungary is made with mutton, onion, green beans, potatoes and sour cream and is sprinkled with finely chopped dill.

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f.) Újházi Tyúkleves – (Chicken Soup, Ujhazi Style)

- Named for Ede Ujhazi, the Hungarian Character actor and gourmet cook, This rich Chicken soup, fortified with beef soup bones and a variety of vegetables, is a favorite at Hungarian weddings.

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g.) Hideg Meggyleves – (Cold Sour Cherry Soup)

- This cold sour cherry soup is made with sour cream, sugar and vanilla and depending on the level of sweetness, it can be served either with the meal or as a dessert course.

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2. Rostélyos - (Braised Steak)

According to George Lang, "Rostélyos is one of the national foods of Hungary." It can be a simple braised steak or a stuffed and rolled steak. There are regional specialties and it is often named after chefs or famous people. Originally a grilled meat in Hungary, it was transferred to pan frying or braising in the nineteenth century.

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The word rostélyos in Hungarian refers to the area just behind the shoulder of beef and includes the part of the rib known as the "cube roll" or "rib eye". In practice, it is usually made from any lean, boneless steak such as a club steak or thinly pounded sirloin steak. The following are five of the better known recipes:

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a.) Esterházy Rostèlyos - (Braised Steak in Esterházy Style)

- Pan-fried steak, braised in a pureed mixture of carrots, celery root and parsnips and topped with matchsticks of the same vegetables.

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b.) Serpenyós Rostèlyos – ("Pan-fried" Braised Steak)

- Pan-fried steak braised with diced potatoes, green peppers and tomatoes.

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c.) Csáki Rostèlyos – (Braised Steak in Chef Csáki ’s Style)

- Pan-fried steak stuffed with bacon, onion and lecsó and held together with beaten egg.

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d.) Örkényi Rostèlyos - (Braised Steak in Örkényi Style)

- Thin pounded steak, layered with bacon, pork sausage, sauerkraut and sour cream and then rolled up and tied with string. The rolled meat is then browned and braised in a mixture of chopped tomatoes, light cream and wine.

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e.) Kassai Töltött Rostèlyos – (Stuffed Steak a la Kassa)

- Thin pounded steak, layered with ground ham cooked with cream, flour and egg and then rolled up and tied with string. The rolled meat is then browned and braised in a mixture of tomato puree and sour cream.

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Töltött Zöldségfélék - (Stuffed Vegetables)

a.) Töltött Paprika - (Stuffed Peppers)

- Bell peppers stuffed with ground meat and rice and cooked in tomato sauce.

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b.) Töltött Káposzta – (Stuffed Cabbage)

- Cabbage leaves stuffed with pork, beef and rice and baked on a layer of sauerkraut, bacon and chopped tomatoes.

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c.) Töltött Karalábi – (Stuffed Kohlrabi)

- Hollowed out kohlrabis, stuffed with pork, veal and bread cubes and poached in chicken broth.

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d.) Töltött Hagyma - (Stuffed Onions)

- Onions stuffed with ground veal, topped with slices of bacon and sour cream and baked in an oven.

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e.) Töltött Tök Kapormártással - (Stuffed Summer Squash with Dill Sauce)

- Zucchini stuffed with pork or veal and rice and baked in a dill - sour cream sauce.

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4. Káposzták mint Fötelek - (Cabbage as a Main dish)  

a.) Székelygulyás or Székelykáposzta - (Szekely Gulash)

- A tasty mixture of goulash and sauerkraut.

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b.) Kolozsvári Rakott Káposzta – (Layered Cabbage as in Kolozsvár)

- Layers of sauerkraut, rice, ground pork and sausage.

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c.) Móri Rakott Káposzta – (Layered Cabbage as in Mór)

- Layers of sauerkraut, rice, bacon and pork spare ribs.

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d.) Erdélyi Rakott Káposzta - (Layered Cabbage as in Erdélyi)

- Layers of sauerkraut, rice, sausage, pork and boiled eggs..

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e.) Káposzta Testa- (Cabbage and Noodles)

- Cabbage cooked with bacon and onions and then mixed with broad egg noodles.

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Levesek (Soups)

Rostelyos (Grilled Meat)

Toltott Zoldsegfelek (Stuffed Vegetables)

Kaposztak mint Foetelek (Cabbage as a Main Meal)

Budapest Montage

Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, Hungary

Map of Hungary

show route and directions
A markerBudapest, Hungary -
Budapest, Hungary
[get directions]

B markerDebrecen, Hungary -
Debrecen, Hungary
[get directions]

C markerVienna, Austria -
Vienna, Austria
[get directions]

George Lang’s Cuisine of Hungary

If you only plan to buy one cookbook this year and if you enjoyed my recipes on Hungarian food,I highly recommend this cookbook. Owner of Café des Artistes in New York and the magnificent Gundel restaurant in Budapest, George Lang not only provides authentic recipes from the various regions of Hungary, he also provides historical information and anecdotes on their origin.

This is one of my very favorite cookbooks of all time.

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Comments 4 comments

chefsref profile image

chefsref 5 years ago from Citra Florida

Excellent Hub but now I want to know how to pronounce all those names.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago Author

If you are serious, I would consider adding pronunciation at some later date. Let me give you a few hints. The accent is always on the first syllable and there are no silent letters.


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 5 years ago from South Wales

This is a whole cook book in one hub. Well done.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago Author

You guessed my secret. I am planning to gradually publish all of the elements of a cookbook on Hungarian food which can be appreciated both by readers of Hungarian heritage and Americans who have never cooked with lard, sour cream or paprika.

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