I travel often and voraciously, and trying new dishes in new places is one of my favorite things to do. I pick up recipe books as souvenirs of the places I visit, which is where this strange-sounding recipe, Vegetarian Hortobagyi Pancakes, comes from.
I visited Budapest earlier this year and the cuisine came as a pleasant surprise. I have since learned a little more about Hungary’s culinary traditions and now feel bad for even being surprised – far from being the Eastern European stereotype of heavy and bland, Hungarian food is vibrant, passionate, and exciting. Distinctive, local produce is used and paprika, or paprikash, is a key ingredient. It features in the traditional dish of Hortobagyi Palacsinta, or savory pancakes.
Hortobágyi palacsinta are more or less the same as traditional British pancakes – thin, light pancakes – while Hortobagyi refers to the stew filling. Traditionally, Hortobagyi pancakes are filled with seasoned ground meat, typically a combination of minced pork and beef, variations can include other meats like chicken or veal. Some recipes also incorporate mushrooms or other vegetables into the filling for added depth of flavor.
However, I have made a vegetarian Hortobagyi pancake recipe. I hope I won’t offend any Hungarians!
The dish is finished with a sour cream and paprika sauce, which balances really well against the stew filling. Fresh parsley is the final flourish, adding a color and flavor contrast. Here is the recipe for vegetarian Hortobagyi pancake or Hortobágyi Palacsinta:
Vegetarian Hortobagyi Pancakes
For the pancakes
- 120 g plain flour I used a gluten-free blend
- 1 egg
- 1 york
- 200 ml milk
- 75 ml sparkling water
For the filling
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 cup mushrooms
- 1 courgette
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp vegetable bouillon
- black pepper to taste
For the sauce
- 3 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tbsp stock from stew
- 2 tsp paprika
- Fresh parsley to garnish.
- First, make the pancake batter by sifting the flour into a large bowl, along with a pinch of salt. Make a well and add the eggs, then the milk. Whisk ingredients together, and use a spatula to incorporate all the flour from the sides, until you have a runny batter.
- Put in fridge to rest for 30 mins.
- Meanwhile, make the stew. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large saucepan. Dice the onion and crush the garlic, then saute in the oil. Chop the rest of the vegetables and add to the pan.
- Dissolve the bouillon in 300ml of just-boiled water. Cover the vegetables with the stock and stir in the spices. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and leave to simmer for about 30 mins, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
- When the stew is nearly done, make the pancakes. Put the oven on a low heat and stick a large plate in to warm – you can put the pancakes in as you make them to stop them from going cold. Take the pancake batter from the fridge. Add the sparkling water to the batter and give it another good whisk.
- Melt a small amount of butter in the frying pan – you don't want too much. Once the pan is hot, set the heat to medium and ladle some of the batter into the pan. Tip the pan around to quickly coat the bottom with the batter. After a couple of minutes, the pancake should loosen.
- Check to see if it is golden on the underneath; if so, flip it over (I used a pan slice. but if you're brave you can toss them!) and cook for a few seconds on the other side. Lubricate the pan with a little more butter and repeat. You should get 6 pancakes from this amount of mixture.
- Put all the pancakes in the oven to keep warm. Make the sauce by mixing the sour cream, the remaining stock from the stew and the paprika together in a pan over a low heat. It should only take a minute or two for the cream to warm through.
- To assemble, spoon some of the stew onto each pancake, then carefully roll up. Spoon some of the cream over the top, garnish with the parsley, and serve.