Purger, Zagreb

White Wine Goulash Serving Bowl
White Wine Goulash Serving Bowl

I have visited Purger twice now, and on neither occasion have I seen a non-Croat there. One waiter speaks no English and the other only understands the basics which for me, is always a good sign. I tend to believe that if the locals like a restaurant and it is not full of tourists, you are probably guaranteed a good meal. With Purger, this is definitely the case. From the outside one may be hesitant to enter but on negotiating your way through the restaurant one is finally met with a secluded courtyard, the perfect city getaway. The only problem, and it really is not a problem, is that this restaurant’s menu is not merely vast, it is excessive. It is difficult to decide which type of the seemingly endless options of veal, pork, beef, fish, chicken to choose.

Naravni Samobor
Naravni Samobor

The portions at this restaurant are comparable in size to that of the menu. The Vinksi Gulaš, a veal goulash unusually made with white wine and less paprika than the traditional Hungarian or Transylvanian goulash. Served in a large metal bowl, it is easy to think it would be impossible to finish every morsel but, as is the case with the food served at Purger, it is simply too delicious to leave a mouthful. The goulash is served with potatoes but you will want to make use of the dense, cornmeal bread to mop up the excess thin sauce.

The Naravni Samobor is a thin veal escalope doused in garlic and grilled, apparently a tradition associated with the nearby village of Samobor. The veal was beaten incredibly thinly and required very little effort to eat and the meat simply flaked apart on entering my mouth. For a garlic lover, this platter is simply heaven.

The only slight disappointment was the Svinjski Kotlet, a grilled pork cutlet which while was rich in flavour, was unfortunately a little tough. Nevertheless, the great taste made up for the minor disappointment.

Pork Cutlets
Pork Cutlets

Side dishes include potatoes, french fries, rice, croquettes, and a variety of large individual salads which add a useful, refreshing element to one’s meal.  The beetroot is fresh and will make one never want to return to that pre-prepared from the supermarket, and the tomatoes are juicy with thick flesh and a truly wonderful taste.

The wine list boasted all the usual local wines including Vinarija Dingač, Pelješac, Kvalitetno vino, Vinogorje Pelješac, 2007.  The wine was heady, smooth and velvety, a perfect accompaniment to the rich meal.

Purger

Petrinjska 33

Zagreb

Tel: 4810 713

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The Best Goulash in Budapest

Szent Istvan Basilica
Szent Istvan Basilica

Dom, a restaurant next to St Stephen’s Basilica in Pest, in my opinion offers great goulash.  In fact, they offer not just one type of goulash but two: typical Gulyasleves and Transylvanian goulash.    The former follows the traditional recipe for goulash but the latter uses sauerkraut creating an interesting, and quite wonderful, flavour.  Both are deliciously yummy and are perfect served with the traditional nokedli or galuska, small semolina dumplings.  To make the dumplings all one needs is two eggs, a pinch of salt, 400g of flour and 3 1/2 tbsp of oil.  Although quite similar to Italian gnocchi the texture and consistency is quite different.  If anything, the nokedli and galuska are much drier and so are perfect as an accompaniment for soups and all porkolt dishes.  The stuffed peppers served at Dom are also fantastic. The only small problem is the portion sizes which when the dish arrives looks relatively small but in fact turns out to be rather deceiving and more than most can manage to consume in one meal!

Main courses range in price but usually cost somewhere between 1800 and 2400 Forints.  This restaurant is ideal in winter or summer.  In the winter one can sit in the small, dark, homely, beautifully tiled restaurant, complete with traditional dark mahogany furniture.  With Grandmother, Mother and twin brothers present, one can really feel as if surrounded by your very own Hungarian family.  Alternatively, in the summer, one can sit, hiding from the sun under large umbrellas and overlooking the pretty Szent Istvan Basilica and large, imposing square.  The twin brothers who act as waiters are particularly friendly and will happily offer particularly talkative tourists a free drink of Tokaj after a meal.

Tip: If one is less keen on spicy food, do beware the odd cunningly hidden, whole, hot, green pepper!

Dom
Sorozo – Etterem
Budapest
Szent Istvan ter 1
Tel: 06-1-317-25-06

For a recipe on traditional goulash go to Charlotte’s Goulash.

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Hungarian Beef Goulash

Tower Slow Cooker
Tower Slow Cooker

I love food. I love eating. However, I am also prone toward being rather lazy, and as a poor graduate have to make the most from the little I can afford. As a result, I am all for one pot dishes and am particularly fond of my slow cooker. However, if you do not have a slow cooker, this recipe is still for you as it can be cooked either on the hob or in the oven, which ever you desire!

Goulash is by one of the more familiar dishes from Eastern Europe. Made with sweet paprika, it is typical of many traditional Hungarian dishes. It would normally be cooked in an iron cast pot on top of a fire, but living in a studio flat in London makes this is somewhat impossible. Instead, I opt for cooking either in my casserole dish for at least three hours at 150 °C, or alternatively, in my slow cooker for between four and five hours on high. However, as I said, you could cook this on the hob, but with three jobs, I prefer to not have to keep too much of an eye on things!

You can just chuck everything into the pot and go but I try to make it a little more authentic. Onion, for example, is one ingredient which never quite has the same effect having been put in raw to the slow cooker.

First, prepare the ingredients which can be placed into either the casserole dish or slow cooker. Peel a carrot and parsnip and place into the dish. Leave them whole as they are just for flavour, not for eating. Peel and cut a large white potato into cubes and place this in the dish too. Add a bay leaf (two if they are small) and some parsley tied together so it can be easily removed (if you do not have string, use some foil).

Dice a large white onion and cook in a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Traditionally, goose fat should be used, but I find this can make the sauce too greasy. Cook the onion until it is translucent (not brown!), add in the chopped garlic for one minute, and then add half the paprika. Pour the onion, garlic and paprika into the pot with the carrot etc.

Onion in pan

Sprinkle the stewing beef chunks with a little corn flour (though plain flour can also be used) and place into a frying pan over a medium heat. Do not brown this too much, just a little, to seal in the juices. Sprinkle on the rest of the paprika and cook for a further minute and then add this into the pot.

Beef in pan

Ready to go!
Ready to go!

Add two teaspoons of caraway seeds into the frying pan and heat gently for two minutes. Put these into the pot and then rinse out the frying pan with a little of the beef stock. I add this and the remaining stock into the pot.

Cut two medium sized tomatoes and two sweet peppers into chunks and place these into the pot with two or three teaspoons of tomato puree.

Cover and heat either in the oven, in your slow cooker, or on top of a hob.

The stock may need topping up if a lot evapourates/is absorbed.

I serve this with gnocchi and a sprinkle of parsley in a nice large bowl.

Ingredients to feed 2 very hungry people:

500g stewing beef chunks

500 ml beef stock

1 bay leaf

1 carrot

1 parsnip

1 large white onion

1 large white potato

2 cloves of garlic

2 medium sized tomatoes

2 sweet red peppers

2-3 tsp tomato puree

4 tsp sweet paprika

2tsp caraway seeds

2 handfuls of parsley

Gnocchi to serve

Cooking times:

3 hours on low heat on hob

4 hours 150 °C oven (although, the longer the better!)

4-6 hours on high in slow cooker (again, the longer the better!)

Finished product!

Serve!

Washing up
Washing up

Hard work?  Well, I will not lie, any form of cooking requires effort and drive but here is the washing up I was left with – hardly a mountain!

And to prove you do not need a mansion in order to cook for yourself, this is my small kitchen in my studio flat.  If I can do it, so can you!

Kitchen left
Kitchen left
Kitchen right
Kitchen right

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