This weekend S. came to visit me in my new digs in Budapest. Since I haven't been doing a lot of "cooking" these last couple of weeks (more like "foraging"), I was excited to have someone else around to inspire me to get back in the kitchen. After wandering around the city all day, visiting friends and checking out cute little stores in the Jewish District, we headed back home with some gorgeous Hungarian yellow peppers and a vague plan to make paprikás.
Paprikás (pronounced "paprikash") is a relatively simple traditional meal that normally involves some kind of protein, ample smoked or sweet paprika, peppers, tomatoes and sour cream. Even with this simple base, it is so unique and delicious, and really lends itself well to veganizing. I've made it before with chickpeas (from The Urban Vegan's recipe) and thought it was fantastic, but this time we lacked both chickpeas AND powdered paprika spice (oddly enough, for being in Budapest...)
However, I had a ton of mushrooms, and a jar of this weird kind of pureed red pepper paste that I've been experimenting with lately. If paprikás really needs red pepper flavor, than what's the big flavor difference between powder and paste, right?
Well, actually there is a difference. It was WAY better than usual. This red pepper paste has found its fate. (In fact, it probably says to use it this way on the jar, but I don't speak one word of Hungarian.*) If you are going to duplicate this at home, I would recommend either trying to find the original Hungarian stuff at a Eastern European market, or just looking around for the red pepper tapenade that occasionally pops up in stores. However, keep in mind that the Hungarian version I have is both very mild and quite salty and piquant- hence the extra sugar in the recipe. There's bound to be different versions out there. Additionally, you'll need soy yogurt or sour cream for this, and we all know that these products have varying degrees of reliability. Just test it out and you'll be fine.
At any rate, I urge you to try Paprikás one of these days- either mine, Isa's version with tofu, or The Urban Vegan's cookbook version with chickpeas. It is such a crowd-pleaser, so adaptable, and such a great gift from Hungary to the world.
(Serves 2 generously)
-1 large white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- a package or about 2 cups brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
-3 Hungarian yellow peppers, de-seeded and cut into a big dice
-2 and 1/2 tablespoons mild Hungarian red pepper paste/ cream (it kind of looks like this.)
-2 tomatoes, diced
-1 T Agave Nectar (optional)
-1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup soy yogurt or sour cream, at room temp.
- Green onions for topping (optional)
1.) In a large skillet or cast iron pan, heat oil over medium and add in onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add in garlic. Cook another 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
2.) Add in mushrooms and season w/ salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, another 5 minutes then add in peppers.
3.) When both peppers and mushrooms are softened, add in tomatoes, agave, red pepper paste, and water. Continue stirring occasionally until you have a nice saucy pan.
4.) In a small bowl, combine room temp yogurt or sour cream with a heaping spoonful of the sauce, and mix together with a fork. Add this mixture into your pan. Stir until incorporated, taste once more for salt, then turn off heat and cover until ready to serve. Serve over pasta or spaetzle., sprinkled with green onions. A nice glass of sweet Hungarian wine wouldn't be out of place either.
Song of the Day: Grizzly Bear- Two Weeks