When it comes on minced meat in the kitchen people usually think about spaghetti bolognese. But minced meat used in other ways in Hungary. One of them is the famous stuffed cabbage. To tell the truth, though it is an iconic Hungarian dish, the origin of the delicacy is not Hungarian. Ask some people in Greece or Turkey, what is dolmades..Actually the only difference between stuffed cabbage and dolmades is the use of spices – Hungarians use plenty of paprika powder – and that the meat is rolled in grapeleaves, not in cabbage leaves as in Hungary.

All you need to make Hungarian stuffed cabbage is large leaves of green cabbage, minced meat, onion, rice, paprika and pickled, chotted cabbage. The leaves filled up with cooked mixture of onion, rice and meat, seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper has to be cooked, then smothered with sour cream. That’s it. Similary to goulash, there are several variations of the basic recipe, some people add some bacon or smoked sausage to the chopped cabbage, to create a more rich and savory dish. Some others give garlic to the filling mixture, and some tomatoes to the sauce. And real grandmas cook and pickle the raw cabbages themselves.

Stuffed paprika – pepper – is also very popular in Hungary, specially at the end of the summer, when both pepper and tomatoes are in season. For this Hungarians use sweet, long, yellow peppers. Known as ‘banana peppers’ in other countries, in Hungary this kind of vegetable is called ‘paprika for stuffing’, or TV paprika in short, nobody knows why. What goes inside is the same mixture as in case of stuffed cabbage, but the sauce it is cooked in – what a suprise – goes without paprika powder. The stuffed peppers are cooked in sweet tomato sauce with just a little salt.