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  • Hungary_Babgulyas_Bean Goulash


  • Hungary_Babgulyas_Bean Goulash

Babgulyás, bab being bean and gulyás being goulash, is a Hungarian staple served at every restaurant which is heavily spiced with the Hungarian staple, paprika.

It came into my life the first time I travelled to Romania with Cosmin; he comes from Transylvania very close to the Hungarian border so Hungarian food is almost as much a part of his families diet as that of Romania.  Stopping out for lunch one afternoon, a translation error saw him asking me if I wanted Bob soup.  The name has stuck, we had a soup called Bob and it was very tasty. 

Since day one of The Taste Trail, he has been insistent that when we finally got round to Hungary that we would be having babgulyás.  So I checked out a couple of recipes, and then I checked some more, before coming to the conclusion that it is very much like the English shepherd’s pie.  They taste nothing alike but what they have in common is that every single household has their own recipe.

Their own completely different recipes! The proportion of beans to meat varies wildly, some use beef, some pork, some include wine, some cumin, a few plop noodles in the pot, parsnips vs turnips and brown beans vs pinto.  In the name of authenticity I Microsoft Excelled the shit out of this recipe, plugged the ingredients from 32 different recipes into excel and came up with the average.

This is it, the average babgulyás recipe which doesn’t taste average.  Sorry Cosmin, 79% of the recipes used beef, I’ll make you a pork babgulyás another day.  Alas it cannot be a one pot dish as if the pinto beans were cooked together with the goulash then the salt content would render them as tough as rubber ...just follow the steps below.

Paprika is so wide spread that you can find it in all supermarkets, you can in England anyway.  I wanted to go a step further and get some really good stuff so I brought mine from who have no less than 11 different varieties all from Hungary.  If you're lucky enough to live in Brighton or anywhere near Portobello market you can drop by their shop, I got mine online ...together with some nigella seedswhite poppy seeds and cornflower petals because I'm easily distracted.


Makes Dulcie's List   Makes Cosmin's List


  •  500g dried pinto beans
  •  1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 250g smoked bacon lardons
  •  1 tsp lard
  •  1.5 onions finely chopped
  •  4 garlic cloves finely sliced
  •  1.5 tbsp paprika
  •  900g stewing beef cut into chunks (you want fatty cuts from the neck ideally)
  •  1 large tomato chopped roughly
  •  1 celery stalk including leaves finely chopped
  •  1 turnip, peeled and finely chopped
  •  2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  •  1 green pepper, finely chopped
  •  1 red chilli pepper
  •  2 bay leaves
  •  250ml red wine
  •  Salt and pepper


  • Calories | 573
  • Fat |16g

Serves | 8

Prep Time | 20 minutes, plus overnight soaking

Cooking Time | 3.5-4 hours


  1. Soak the beans in cold water overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and add to a saucepan with fresh water, bring to the boil then simmer for about an hour until the beans are cooked through.  Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, in a very very large saucepan, fry the lardons and the lard until browned.
  4. Stir in the onion and continue to cook until they're transluscent.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cook until the juices in the pan have evaporated.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika, a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper, then stir in the beef, and once all the meat is covered and a deep paprika red stir in the tomatoes.
  7. Pour in enough water to just reach to the top of the ingredients, cover and bring to the boil.
  8. Stir in the celery stalk, celery leaves, turnip, carrots, green pepper, whole unsliced chilli pepper and bay leaves
  9. Pour in the wine and enough water to reach about 2cm above the ingredients.  Cover, bring to the boil and then simmer for 3-4 hours until the meat is pull-apart tender.  Top up the water from time to time.
  10. Stir in the beans. Cover and cook for a further 15 minutes.

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