This is a classic Hungarian stew. Many people would actually call this a goulash, but a Hungarian goulash is actually more soup-like. See the definitions of goulash and pörkölt in Wikipedia if you’re interested to know more. I’m not making any claims to authenticity with this recipe, but from what I’ve understood, what makes pörkölt a pörkölt is the slow cooking with onions and paprika, which thickens the sauce and adds a rich flavour. The amounts of caraway and paprika can be varied according to taste, and if you don’t like textured soy protein, I think seitan or extra firm tofu could be used instead.

This is what I used:

  • 5 dl soy chunks (textured soy protein)
  • 2 big onions
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
  • 5 dl water
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

I started by rinsing the soy chunks in a colander thoroughly. Then I chopped the onions finely, and fried them in the canola oil until translucent. I removed the frying pan from heat, added paprika, smoked paprika and the ground caraway seeds, and stirred. Paprika burns very easily, so that’s why it’s better to stir in the spices after removing the pan from heat.

I returned the frying pan to the stove on medium heat, and added the soy chunks, water, stock powder, salt, black pepper, and sugar. When the sauce started to boil, I lowered the heat, stirred it, covered the frying pan, and simmered for one hour, stirring every now and then.

At this point, the sauce had thickened quite a bit, and the pörkölt could have already been served. However, I wanted a thicker stew, so I simmered the pörkölt in the covered sauce pan for another 20 minutes, and then the pörkölt had the consistency I desired. This extra simmering is completely optional and depends on the kind of stew you like. We served the pörkölt with boiled potatoes and grated carrots. It can also be served over pasta or Eastern European dumplings called galuska.