All around the world, pancakes are made with liquid dough, fried on both sides in the pan, and the mixture can be sweet or salty. Its ingredients are different depending on the country. It is usually made with a flour, eggs, a salt and/or sugar, and some water, soda water or milk. Hungarian's favourite dessert, called "palacsinta" can be served in different ways. Either sweet or savory, everyone likes it, but the most important is that they are thinner than the ones you have eaten before. Also, we serve it as an appetizer, main course or dessert - weird, huh? Many nations claim it as their speciality, which is due to their origin to a common point - the Roman Empire.
To make Hungarian palacsinta, we need six ingredients: eggs, flour, sparkling water, salt/sugar, milk, and three utensils. A deeper glass or plastic bowl is for assembling the dough, a pan is for frying, and a smooth plate is to gather the finished pancakes. In the first bowl, smooth the flour with milk, knead the two eggs, mix the sugar, add the salt and some soda water - that makes it thin. Then heat a few drops of oil in a wider skillet, take the dough out of the mass with a bullet and divide it in the skillet, stirring it in a few seconds, turning it over and over again until it is ready.
I my opinion, there is no better thing than a chicken paprikash filled in a salty Hungarian pancake. We call it Hortobágyi palacsinta, which makes tourists a little bit confused when they would like to order some in a restaurant. The meat in the pancakes is prepared as a stew, using any kind of meat, like chicken, veal, pork, or Hungarian sausage. Sometimes we even fill it with mushrooms, I don't suggest you try that one though. Before we put them into the oven, we pour them with sour cream and paprika sauce, and when it is baked, we serve it with some fresh parsley. The interesting fact about Hortobágyi pancake is that it has nothing to do with one of the most famous Hungarian region - the Hortobágy. The name is coming from the Brussels World Fair in 1958, where it was used as a marketing trick.
It is my personal favourite palacsinta. It was first made by Károly Gundel, who created it with ground walnuts, raisins, and rum filling, served in a dark chocolate sauce, with heavy cream on the top. But the legend says it originally comes from someone else. Some say Sándor Márai's wife was the first, who made a pancake with a similar recipe, but it can't be proved. We are all very proud of the name Gundel, as it is famous in the gastronomical area. The original recipe is more than a hundred-year-old secret, only known by the world-famous Gundel restaurant, which you can find in Budapest, at the Városliget (City Park).
Beside those two famous Hungarian pancakes, we use a variety of fillings for the palacsinta. Some examples: fruits, ricotta cheese, puddings and creams, cocoa, different jams, or cinnamon. The most important thing is not forgetting to put some icing sugar on the top, as it makes it far more delicious.
No doubt, the best pancakes in Hungary are made at Lake Balaton. The palacsinta is a favorite beach food in my country, and children are crazy about it. You can’t skip a day at the "Hungarian sea” without having some pancakes, take that as advice. I suggest you to try Mala Garden in Siófok, it is one of the best restaurants around the lake. Once you try it, you will understand, why Hungarians call it their favourite dessert.
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