Lecsó is one of our most special national meals, which originally started out as a sauce, but ended up as a cultic vegetable casserole. It is the urban, civilian dish of the Hungarian cuisine’s paprika-scented world. Let’s find out about its story and how you can make it at home 🙂
According to magyarorszagkul.nlcafe.hu, the love of lecsó connects Hungarian people, even though it hasn’t been with us for as long as many people believe. We think of it as a national meal, even though several other nations have their own versions of the roasted vegetable one-pot meal. Just think about the French ratatouille, the North African shakshuka, the Turkish menemen or the Basque piperrada. But all of these are made from different ingredients, so we can rightfully say that lecsó is ours.
However, lecsó is not an ancient Hungarian meal, people only started making it in the 19th century, after the European spreading of pepper and tomato that came after the discovery of the New World. In fact, tomatoes were believed to be poisonous until the 19th century so the vegetable was kept out of the kitchens.
Still, where does lecsó come from, then? You might be surprised, but it originates from the capital city’s civilian kitchens. The bogrács version is not quite authentic. The lecsó we know today can be traced back to truck gardeners working in Káposztásmegyer and their sweet pepper cooked over open fire, to which the countryside relatives of families sometimes added onions and eggs. Then, they started growing tomatoes in Dunakeszi in the 1870s, which led to the birth of peppers with tomatoes a.k.a. lecsó.
Egg lecsó – Photo: Wiki Commons By Burrows
According to origin research, lecsó is an onomatopoeic word: in some regions people used the words lecses, lecskes to express that something was soft, juicy and pulpous. It’s a misconception that the word comes from Bulgarian (due to the fact that truck gardener is Bulgarian gardener ~ bolgárkertész in Hungarian), they only use лечо on tin cans.
Regarding the recipe of lecsó, this is one of the most versatile Hungarian dishes, which is the best when made by our mother, father, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle etc. Some people make it with fat, some with oil. Some people swear by the basic version, some people like to spice it up with sausages and salamis. Some families mix it with sour cream, others with beaten eggs. Lecsó with rice is a quite popular version, but others make the squash-dill version instead.
Further questions include whether or not to peel off the skin of the tomatoes, whether or not to use the seeds of the pepper, whether or not to use paprika and garlic etc. So lecsó means something different for most of us, hence below you can read the basic recipe, which you can perfect and vary any way you’d like to 🙂
Ingredients (for a bigger batch):
- 1 dl of vegetable oil
- 100 grams of smoked lard
- 5 onions
- 2 kg of peppers (you can find separate lecsó peppers in Hungarian shops)
- 1 kg of tomatoes
- salt and pepper
Start by chopping up the lard, onions, peppers and tomatoes. Render the fat of the lard on the oil, then add the onions and let it roast a bit. Add the peppers and let them roast while constantly stirring. When it starts to let out it juices, lower the heat. When the peppers seem crushed and cooked, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let the whole mixture simmer until the tomatoes are soft and cooked.
Enjoy your meal!
Featured image: Wiki Commons By Dencey
Source: Daily News Hungary