Although chimney cake, goulash soup and paprikash are the best known Hungarian meals, many other award-winning Hungarian products deserve attention, like craft chocolates or liqueurs with hundreds of years old recipes.
Index has collected some of the best Hungarian products that gained recognition in the past years and some that are not known widely but are the results of excellent craftsmanship, good quality, hard work and lots of experimenting.
Although paprika is quintessential to the Hungarian cuisine, Hungary is not specialised in chilli. Because of this, the sauces and the chilli produced by those few Hungarian growers are not only unique but have proved their excellence in international competitions.
The first Hungarian chilli sauce that the world became interested in was Spirit of Attila, produced by Chili Hungária.
Spirit of Attila was the champion of the ‘hot’ category at the 2015 World Hot Sauce Awards. In 2016, Kabai Tüzes Mennykő (Fireball) placed second in the ‘hot sauce/medium’ category.
In 2019, Ale Mango Habanero, produced by Gabko Chili won the world’s best chilli sauce award at World Hot Sauce Awards.
During lengthy research at the beginning of the 2000s, the monks of the Pannonhalma Abbey have found a recipe collection by a Bavarian monk, Elek Reisch, dating back to 1735. As all monks did centuries ago, Reisch made use of the herbs’ healing abilities and wrote down the recipes that he came up with.
The monks who found his recipes some years ago began experimenting with them, with the aim of creating a traditional liqueur.
Since the monastery was not equipped with the distillery needed for such an endeavour, they partnered up with Agard Distillery. The herbal liqueur that they produce together became known all across the globe for its appetising abilities and how well it aids digestion.
The acacia was imported to Hungary by Sámuel Tessedik 3 centuries ago to stabilise the sand, but the acacia forests of Hungary produce such great quality honey that it quickly became one of the most favoured trees in Hungary.
Acacia honey is one of the lesser-known Hungarikums abroad, but it is the core element of every market.
It has various beneficial effects: it contains robinin and akacija which possess antiseptic and detoxifying abilities and are great as cough suppressants.
This type of honey also has a high level of fructose, which prevents it from crystallising. It does not have a typical, characteristic taste, however, and its colour varies from almost hueless to mild yellow.
Even though soda is not a Hungarian invention, it was a Hungarian scientist, Ányos Jedlik, who revolutionised the soda industry in Hungary in the 1820s. He introduced the spout with which water was released from seltzer bottles, this way making sure that the water contained the sufficient amount of carbon dioxide. Later in the 19th century, bottles with removable metal valves were produced.
Even though the rise of carbonated mineral water presented a setback for the seltzer water industry, soda did not disappear entirely, not at all: its popularity is once again on the rise, and it became a Hungarikum as well (along with fröccs). However, there is a strict rule: only that water can be called soda in Hungary which was poured into a siphon bottle or a 25 litres soda bottle with a special cap.
There are many paprika-based products in several countries which are made from handpicked, best quality paprika, but Piros Arany and Erős Pista are different from these. The two Hungarikums are unique in their colour and taste, and on top of this, the paprika that they are made from is 100% Hungarian produced from Kalocsa and Szeged.
Piros Arany and Erős Pista are imported to twenty countries abroad, but Hungarians living abroad are always happy to receive a bit of the ‘good stuff’ when relatives or friends are visiting them.
Strawberry wine is made 100% from strawberry, and according to the Epermester Pincészet website, it is rich in vitamin C, phosphor, potassium and calcium. It also contains natural painkillers; it has detoxifying qualities and is great for treating kidney problems, rheum, digestive issues, inflammations in the connective tissue and high temperatures. Besides, it works well as an aphrodisiac.
Index writes about the Bringatanya ice cream shop from Gyenesdiás, where one wall is fully covered in awards: this confectionery won ‘the best Ice cream at Lake Balaton’ title several times with creations like Festeticsék mandulás csókja (the Almond kiss of the Festetics’) and Illatos Isabella (Scented Isabella).
Their biggest accomplishment is the fourth place and the jury’s special award at the Gelato World Tour international ice cream awards.
The ice cream that won the jury’s heart in 2017 was a dark chocolate and passion fruit wonder.
Rózsavölgy Chocolate is one of the best examples for craft chocolates: at their shop, you will find exotic and unique chocolates, bonbons, dragée and funny shaped chocolates. One of the founding members, Katalin Csiszár, was a cartoon drawer, while Zsolt Szabad, an engineer, but their passion for chocolate won.
What makes Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé so interesting is that Katalin and Zsolt do not buy pre-processed cocoa beans, but they set out on finding the plant that they liked best to get the highest quality raw cocoa beans.
They have found the best quality in Venezuela, after which they picked up the craft of cocoa bean processing by themselves after many trials and tribulations.
So what are they making? The Sushi Chocolate, for example, contains ginger, matcha tea, black sesame seed and salmon oil, while Pálinkás kakaóbab (Cocoa bean with pálinka) is made with cocoa bean flakes and fennel.
featured image: hungarikum.hu