Gastronomy Historical Retrospection … 150 Turks occupation!

Chronologically under the 150 years of Turkish occupation in Hungary our food, fruits and spices seems to have had in the long-term made the greatest influence, formed our Hungarian cuisine. 

Approaching from the side of gastronomy in the 16th -17th century history reveals positive effects. The development of today’s culinary culture basically stands very well in many dishes regarding to our coexistence with the Turks. In the Turkish occupation areas naturally, the Turkish culinary culture came to the fore, using the characteristics of Turkish cuisine.

In those times the dishes were prepared with butter, also in use of many dairy products and the dishes were very seasoned. Cooked pasta and dumplings were added as a side-dish or prepared as fillings for soup. Today’s Hungarian meals are almost indispensable using these side-dishes, also called pasta. Among the dishes were some “incomers” such as the pies, sausages, jellies, donuts, pancakes.

All in all, we can say that in the Hungarian nutrition culture by the Turks influence has brought a significant change in our gastronomy which are still effective.  Virtually the Turkish-Hungarian tastes are quite close to each other.

Rice and Meat dishes: Basically the shepherd’s dishes into the Hungarian cuisine came from the Turks. The rice and meat:stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage became our favorite food during the occupation and in the 21st century many restaurants and at families are still having as regular daily meal. Both people are well-known for their meaty buns, the only difference is that Hungarian cuisine mainly uses pork meat, but turkey breast and chicken breast are also on the list as the filling.

Sweets: From Turkish times, our cuisine became “sweeter” and fits nicely in the Hungarian cuisine. Among the sweets, they brought sponge cakes, bird milk, gingerbread, honey brioche. Also arriving from the Turkish mediation the poppy seed, which later became the fillings/flavoring in the Hungarian pasta and cakes. Regarding to the Hungarian pastries, the so called „pogácsa”  (based on rather salty pastry) is also a daily snack, and since the word itself is of Ottoman origin, we have reason to believe that it was already known to the conquering Hungarians, only amplified by the Ottoman-Turkish era. Turkish honey was originally an Armenian sweet, but it was introduced to us through the Turks.

Turkish Herbs and Vegetables: The Turkish gastronomy brought poppy, tomato and eggplant, pepper that become important elements to the Hungarian gastronomy, and now-a-days these spices make our food even more tasty and colorful. The eggplants have been native to the Mediterranean and the Balkans since the 17th century. We happen to know eggplants through the Turkish invasion, it is a.k.a. Turkish paradise. One of the best known dishes made of it was the stuffed eggplant fits nicely also in the vegetarian diet. Cannot skip to mention the seasonings that includes sage, juniper, rosemary, thyme, peppermint, parsley, pepper, various onions, horseradish and saffron. In today’s gastronomy, it is inconceivable to create a real Hungarian flavor without these spices added..

Turkish Fruits: The influence may be also better discovered in the fruits that come to us specifically through Turks … apricots, strawberries, figs, medlar and Mediterranean plants.

The Turkish coffee as their national drink was introduced in our country in the 16th century, and many people still today prefer to drink Turkish coffee. The Turks in the 15th century were in favor of coffee which used as a medicine and also later in Hungary.

Recipe: Rice and Meat (“Rizseshús” in Hungarian)

Ingredients: 60 gram stew made of pork shoulders or turkey breast,  a cup of rice or wild rice.

Preparation mode: Cut the meat into slightly smaller cubes. Place in a saucepan cut large size onion, place into the oil, add a teaspoon of red pepper after the onion glazing. Place the meat in and cover it with cca. 2 cups cold water, and sometimes add more water as is boiled from the meat. The rice is cooked separately, and when the meat gets tender simply mix together. While the meat cooks, clean the rice and wash in a strainer. Mix it with the meat when it is cooked. Bring to a boil and slower the heat down. When using wild rice, soak it in cold water for 1-2 hours (unless pre-cooked) to fasten its softening. Preparation time: cca.: one-and-a-half hour.

By Aggie Reite