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Jun 8, 2007 05:32 PM

What the heck is "real" goulash?

So a blogger and fellow chow hound posts a picture of some goulash she had in a resto. She was left several comments saying they were horrified that that was being called goulash, it's wasn't real, etc. So I hop over to Wikipedia and lo and behold! Their picture is basically the same as hers! If that is not goulash, then what the heck does it look like? What defines it? It seems like there are a lot of variations...


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  1. I don't have much experience with this stuff, but I always thought it was a type of Hungarian stew.

    2 Replies
    1. re: katkoupai

      Yes, it is but one person that left a comment WAS Hungarian and that person said what she had wasn't goulash. But it looks like a gazillion other goulashs I googled. I want to see an image of a "real" goulash because I thought the goulash we had WAS goulash. Granted, it's a crappy photo and I hope she posts it. But someone was so moved by the picture they posted a comment just the other day for her to go and look at the comment they left on a March 2006 post!

      1. re: chaddict

        Hmmm. Well, maybe other people can chime in. There must be others who know more info about this dish. Good luck. :)

    2. Without showing the original picture it is a little bit hard to figure out why it wasn't a "real" gulasch.

      1 Reply
      1. re: honkman

        I know, I know...I am waiting for her to give permission to link to her blog and/or photo. But it pretty much looked like the top photo on Wikipedia.

      2. In our family it was stew, unless Grandma cooked it, then it was goulash. I do know that it didn't have tomato in it, and it did have lots of paprika. Mom and Grandma would put sauerkraut in theirs and called it seigoli goulash (someone can correct my spelling), sort of like sauerkraut makes a pastrami or corned beef into a reuben.

        8 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          Hmmm, I am wondering if the real issue is that (according to Wikipedia) "This "beef stew" version is not usually referred to as gulyás in Hungarian but is rather called marhapörkölt (or "stewed beef"). Gulyás is more often used as the shortened version of gulyásleves as described below." That version is a soup rather than a stew apparently:


          I think I answered my own question but would still like to see a pic of the real deal. There were just so many different images when I googled it.

          For anyone who knows about this, does it more or less look like this?

          1. re: chaddict

            You are correct what we know outside of Hungary as goulasch is called Pörkölt or Paprikás and is a meat stew. The hungarian gulyas is more soup and looks like this:


            1. re: honkman

              Looks pretty good. What's in it? Meat, potato, paprika...?

              1. re: honkman

                Great! Now I know what the hell Crystal meant when he was saying "paprikas" in that scene from "When Harry Met Sally"! To the recipes below, those sound more like what I thought goulash was. I guess it just depends what country you are from when you use the word goulash. I just thought the reaction from the people leaving comments was so strong that I must have been erroneous in my idea of goulash.

              2. re: chaddict

                My mother is originally from Silesia, the part of Poland that the Germans took over for centuries before it reverted to being Poland after WWII. My grandmother was half Viennese (read=Austro-Hungarian cuisine). My mother made the goulash she had grown up with. I used to make it quite a bit myself until I became a vege- and pescatarian during college in the mid-80s so my memory is rather dim, but this is what I can conjure up from the crevices (at the moment my Mom is off in cell phone-free wilderness so I cannot consultl her):

                -Fine dice bacon and fry in Dutch oven
                -Trim off all fat and cut top round (or chuck?) into chunks, season meat, dredge in flour, shake off excess
                -Brown meat on all sides over medium-high heat
                -Sprinkle generously with paprika during the browining - don't burn the paprika!
                -Gradually add small amounts of water till you have a medium roux
                -I think I'm forgetting onions somewhere here ... maybe put them in with the bacon (or no onions? Sorry, this detail escapes me)
                -Add carrots and potatoes and then "stew" for hours
                -Meat will be very tender
                -Definitely no tomatoes!
                -You can add red or white wine while stewing the goulash

                Hope this helps ... very important are the rich flavourfulness of the roux and the extreme tenderness of the meat; it's all about the TLC.

                  1. re: Vikzen

                    Yes, onions would go in with the bacon, actualy after the bacon had rendered out some of the fat. That is pretty much how grandma made it, who learned from her mother who grew up near Prague. Often she put the carrots in later because she didn't like them too soft, but I think that was a personal improv,not how her mother taught her. I had forgotten about browning the meat with the paprika. Good memory Vikzen... wonder how you would do a veg-friendly version.

                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                      Yes, that's right KaimukiMan, about the onions! And the carrots do go in later - now I also recall that the potatoes are definitely had on the side, or egg noodles. I'd probably do a veg friendly with seitan if someone forced me to, but that might be fairly yucky! This is indeed one savory peasant dish, torty - though my family were not peasants, but filthy rich Germans who ended up impoverished refugees in the mountains of Czechoslovakia. (Surely the recipe precedes that sorry phase.)

              3. I was served a gulash in Slovakia that was like sauerkraut in gravy. Definitely more like a soup than a stew, but not really a soup either. Served with a fresh kielbasa. Very awesome.

                1. Coming from an Austria-Hungarian perspective it is a stew that is started like many middle euro dishes with sauted onions (+ garlic if desired), then flour sprinkled in (getting a roux going), then before the liquid goes in get lots of paprika in. Then liquid then either pre-browned meat, or just as is meat. It ends up kinda soupy and needs a carb like potato or noodles that it gets dished over. This is peasant food, so the picute that showed even cuts of meat, etc is a bit too fou fou.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: torty

                    I think goulash is one of those wonderfull dishes that everyone has adjusted according to family preference. In my german family it was a combination of meat, lots of onion, and a spicy hungarian paprika. Bacon fat was used when available but other fats were often substituted. You added other vegetables if you had them. It was a stew in times of plenty and a soup when food was scarce. This was seved with potatoes, bread, dumplings, or noodles. Borsht is a dish that is similar in its variiations from place to place and acording to family preferences. They both usually taste wonderful.