Paprika comes in seven categories including: special, mild, delicate, sweet, semi-sweet, rose, and hot. For fiery hot, look for paprika labeled Erős. Any paprika labeled "sweet" has a lack of heat. It is usually available in dried or paste form.
Sour cream is a versatile and ubiquitous ingredient in the Hungarian kitchen. Traditionally, it was made by leaving cream to sour naturally. Modern intervention produces sour cream by pasteurising and homogenising single cream and adding a pure form of bacteria that grows until the desired tartness and consistency is reached.
Baked whole or sliced, made into pancakes and dumplings, or mashed and served with fried onions – potatoes are widely used in all parts of Hungary.
Pasta is featured in sweet and savoury courses. The shape is customised to suit a particular dish. Cut into large squares, it is combined with cabbage wilted in butter or ham, eggs and sour cream, or dropped into soups; pasta ribbons are added to ground poppy seeds, lemon rind and icing sugar or crushed walnuts for a sweet snack.
The Makó region in Hungary lays claim to an ingenious method of cultivation that is said to produce superior quality onions that are sweet and aromatic.
Caraway seeds are thought to be one of the oldest spices in Europe. They have an anise-like flavour and aroma and are a key ingredient in liptauer, some variations of meat stews such as gulyás, soups and breads.
Blue gray in colour and slightly nutty in flavour, poppy seeds are sprinkled over pasta and used extensively in Hungarian baking in strudels, tortes and the festive beigli.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut is an excellent source of vitamin C and is commonly eaten with Hungarian kolbas, salami or csabai sausages. Sauerkraut is generally consumed as part of traditional dishes like stuffed cabbage or székelygulyás (which a lot of people think is from Transylvania, because the Székelysare from there, but in fact the dish is named after the author Joseph Székelys, who is from Budapest).
Filo (fillo or phyllo) pastry
Filo pastry is paper-thin and flaky, making hand made filo pastry something of an art form in itself. Originally from Turkey, it is believed to have been introduced to Hungary in the 16th century where its use translated from baklava and börek to the making of strudel.
A variety of griotte or dark sour cherry that are grown extensively in Hungary and used in both sweet and savoury dishes, including sour cherry soup and strudel.