When you think of Hungary, the basic 'keyword' for all foreigners about the country is Goulash. Many does not know, that we have two dishes called goulash: a soup and a stew. I consider the goulash stew the dish that tourists should be served with other than the goulash soup, as the culinary experience of the two is very different.

If you ask me, and you are about to visit Hungary and want to have a great goulash experience, you should try the stew instead of the soup.

This stew is traditionally prepared with beef meat, but you can use the same stew base for other types of meat: chicken, other poultry, pork or game.

On special occasions or just to spice up your everyday menu, feel free to choose a more noble, game meat such as venison. The method of preparation is very similar to the beef-version, the only slight difference is the seasoning; but like any other wild meat, venison can provide a very unique taste experience.


  • 400 g beef shin, diced
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove - smashed or finely diced
  • 4 tbsp fat
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika powder
  • 50 ml water
  • 1 tsp concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 tsp paprika paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds
  • Salt, pepper
  • 250 g egg barley optional garnish

If you use venison or other game: add 2 bay leaves 2 juniper berries


  1. I normally make a quick, Hungarian-style stew base:
  2. Fry the finely chopped onion in the fat and stir till it becomes a bit transparent.
  3. Add the sweet paprika powder and 50 ml water. During the reaction of water and hot fat, the onion became soft.
  4. After that, I add the concentrated tomato paste, paprika paste, garlic, ground caraway seeds, salt, pepper, (if you use venison or game: also add the bay leaves and juniper berries9.
  5. Put the diced meat into the pot and add more water, till it completely covers the meat.
  6. Cook the stew under the lid, on the lowest level of the stove for about 1-1,5 hours (depends on the meat), and sometimes check if you need to add more water because of evaporation. If you want to cut the time in half, use a pressure cooker.
  7. When the meat is soft enough, remove the lid and let the sauce become thicker.
  8. My favourite garnish for stew dishes is egg barley or 'tarhonya' as we call it in Hungary. I always choose my widest diameter pot or frying pan to prepare it.
  9. Put the egg barley into the pan, add 3-4 tbsp oil and start to fry it.
  10. When you see different coloured pieces in the pan, add 100 ml water. Be careful cause it's so easy to burn yourself with hot steam.
  11. When the water disappeared, I stir it and add another 100 ml water then repeat this till the pasta become more soft than crunchy in the middle.
  12. Turned off the stove and put a lid on the pan for about 10 minutes. The egg barley pieces doubled in size during cooking.
  13. Finally plate the stew with the garnish.

We Hungarians love to put some full fat -not light!- crème fraîche on top. In my opinion, this is one of the best alternatives to our special dairy called 'tejföl' or you can use a Polish dairy, called śmietana what you can find in most of the grocery stores abroad... but if you don't like this idea, you can serve with pickled gherkins as well.

Hungarian Goulash Stew - Photo by © Reka Csulak

Hungarian Goulash Stew - Photo by © Reka Csulak

Did YOU try this recipe?