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Recipe: Bogracs Gulyas

… or traditional Goulash stew – which might sound more familiar to you.

In my previous post I suggested that I might give you a food recipe, in an attempt to write about something different than software. After some thought, that actually sounded like a nice addition to Alien Pastures. So here we go.

I used to cook a lot when I was younger (as a student and after my study, before I became a father and life overwhelmed me). And a rather good one too if I may have my moment of not-so-humbleness. In the years that followed, I traveled a lot, got ever buysier with work and no longer was able to prepare a decent meal, instead depending on my dear wife for my diner. And she cooks a whole lot better than I ever did! All the good food, it made me lazy!

Then, before you know you’re ten years older and your son needs to get initiated in the art of cooking. We decided that he and I will cook diner once a week – in the weekends when I have the time to prepare things that may take hours. For me that was a nice way to get back my skills and learn new techniques and cook stuff my way.

One of those weekend days, I decided to make a goulash. Not the soup that everybody knows from the store, but the original Hungarian recipe which is somewhat between a soup and a stew.

Photo by "Hungaro phantasto"

Hungary is known for its paprikas of course, and the goulash. You may not be aware, but the Gulyás were hungarian herdsmen who traveled across large parts of Europe with their cattle. They would cook their beef stew in large copper kettles above a wood fire – these kettles were called bogrács. This is how the traditional meal became known as “bogrács gulyás” – or just goulash. It took until the 18th century, when paprika and potato became widely known in Hungary, to turn the gulyás into the watery stew we all know and love.

Here is the recipe for 3 to 4 dishes (we are no meat eaters here,  so for some of you this may amount to only 2 to 3 dishes). Forgive me if I do not use the correct english words, I am used to write my recipes in dutch…


  • 1 big onion, sliced into coarse pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, cut into bits
  • 50 grams of butter
  • vegetable oil (olive or sunflower oil)
  • 1 tablespoon of mild paprika powder
  • pinch of hot paprika powder
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • 400 grams of beef stew, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of thick tomato sauce –or- 3 to 4 peeled and chopped-up tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper (also called green paprika), cut into coarse pieces
  • ½ celery root (celeriac) or turnip, cut into cubes
  • 300 grams of potatoes, sliced into cubes


  • Heat the butter together with a generous sprinkle of vegetable oil in a large (iron) pot until the butter turns brown and stops sizzling.
  • Add the sliced onions and garlic, and sauté until they turn yellowish-brown.
  • Add the paprika powder and stir it through the onion. Add the beef cubes, the caraway seeds and a few tablespoons of hot water.
  • Sauté together until the meat begins to change colour, white to lightbrown. Keep stirring to prevent burning the onion. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the tomato sauce (or the chopped tomatoes), the green paprika and the celery root.
  • Stir and mix the ingredients, then add half a liter of water, enough to cover the pot’s content.
  • Close the lid on the pot and leave the pot to cook on a small fire for two hours, until the meat is almost done.
  • Add the potato cubes (and salt to taste) and leave on the fire to cook for another 20 minutes.

Serve on hot plates with some bread on the side if you want.

Enjoy your meal tonight!



  1. escaflown

    🙂 I would have added some hot spices.

  2. glezmen

    a few hot paprikas (not in powder form) is essential 😉

    it’s interesting how potato and paprika (which are quite new to europian people, we only know it since a few hundred years) became standard for all traditional hungarian foods

  3. arslan

    thanks 🙂 looks good.

  4. alienbob


    Is there anything else you would change in the recipe if you were going to make a goulash yourself?

    Cheers, Eric

  5. sizemj

    Thanks for the recipe. Sometimes it is not always about software and eating is also a favorite activity of mine : )

  6. glezmen

    the recipe is very good (much better than most of the foods anywhere in the world labeled as ‘authentic hungarian’ :D)

    we have several bogracsgulyas parties every year, but i usually provide my house and garden, one of my friends is the chef, not me 🙂
    but i’d have three suggestions:
    1) instead of butter, use lard
    2) i never tried to make it with tomato sauce, but i’d prefer real tomatos
    3) we always add a little marjoram (not too much, its taste can be very dominant!), although it depends on personal taste, not everybody uses it

  7. disturbed1

    Made some Goulash the other night, pretty similar to yours. We leave the butter out, and use whole fresh tomatoes. Slightly healthier, and only a little sacrifice on the taste.

    Love the recipe idea, keep them coming.

  8. ivanp84

    When I was a kid, I loved my mother’s goulash (gulaš in Serbian). Her recipe is quite similar as yours. During student years I have moved to Belgrade, and since then I have missing my mother’s kitchen… Several times I made my own goulash, and I was satisfied with taste.
    Thanks for sharing! :)))

  9. AG

    Since I do not regularly consume red meat (occasionally lamb can be found in my home). I’d replace the beef cubes with chicken or turkey. Parsnips could also be substituted for turnips 😉 Otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing. AG aka Kitchen Kemist..

  10. alienbob

    Kitchen Kemist, hahaha!

    I am very pleased that there is a culinary discussion going on in the blog for a change, instead of all the software talk. Good ideas regarding variations in the goulash recipe, thanks all of you.

    I should write about the lasagna I made last week 🙂 And there is couscous and “zuurvlees” (or rather “zoervleis”, the stew I grew up with in the city of Maastricht) still on the TODO for the coming weekends.


  11. Mats

    Interesting recipe, I will have to try it sometime. On the topic of food, here is my favorite pasta recipe:
    Pasta with chili, paprika (peppers) and tomatoes:
    4 servings:
    400 grams of pasta
    2 red paprikas finely chopped
    1 finely chopped onion
    2 sliced fresh chilis
    3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
    4 diced tomatoes
    2 cans of borlotti beans (drained weight 500 grams)
    olive oil
    40 grams parmesan cheese
    fry paprikas, onions, chilis and garlic until soft for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, the beans and some water. Let it cook for about 5 minutes.
    Add salt and ground pepper to taste.
    Serve with freshly grated parmesan.

  12. kremlicska

    The goulash we do not butter, not oil. Fat is made. We do not make into cheese. We assume fat, chopped onion to the fire. When the onions have been bottled, add the garlic and the meat. When the meat juice gives pulled away from the heat, sprinkle thoroughly mixed and ground red pepper (not spicy). Pour water and let it cook for an hour.

    When the meat is almost tender, then we used to put the beans and more water. (Which is not a true bean stew, goulash instead.) A person with beans even half an hour.

    Then we add salt, vegetables, bay leaves, cumin. If you have to trim it with fresh tomatoes, but it’s OK if you do not.

    The vegetables: carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, celery. If they are cut into the abdomen figure, half an hour for the cooking, diced small enough for 20 minutes.

    Hot pepper ground up, just like we do in the fresh prepared meals, when still hot, but I do not cook. The strength and remains the best.

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