Are you planning a trip to Hungary and looking for things to do in Budapest? How about having a little bit of fun, mixed with Hungarian culture and food? We have all heard the term Goulash before, but did you know it was a traditional Hungarian dish? Well, we are going to provide you with an overview of one of our favorite things to do in Budapest. It is great for the entire family, as we had 3 generations whisked away for the day, in Hungarian Culture.
We had such a wonderful family experience with our cooking class in Morocco, we thought we would enjoy a little Hungarian Culture in Budapest too. I searched Trip Advisor for “Things to do in Budapest”, specifically a cooking class, and we found Chefparade Cooking School. They received great reviews, so we contacted them and they agreed to a sponsored visit. The school looked professional and they had room for all 5 of us in the family. Grandma Linda loves to cook so much, we thought this would be a great 3 generation thing to do in Budapest.
The day began with an early morning meet up, with our guide and other participants, at The Great Market Hall or Central Market Hall (Hungarian “Nagycsarnok”), on Fővám Tér in the 9th district. This is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest completed in 1896. Unlike other markets we have been to, this one was spotless. I really don’t think we have ever seen such a clean and beautiful public market.
Our guide, Cili was very informative and fun to be with. As we entered the Market she took us upstairs to the “ready-made” food stalls. This is an area where you can get just about any ready-made Hungarian dish you can think of. It seems they love their cabbage and stuffing foods. The kids had their eye on the pastries and breads. Cili gave us a bit of history and preparation tips behind the food and the dishes. It turns out that goulash is more of a soup than a thick stew, who knew?
We also spent some time exploring the main floor of the market with all of the produce, meat, cheese, and souvenir stalls. It was wonderful to learn about the wine Tokaji. It is the Hungarian form for the name of the wines from the Tokaj wine region. We were told some people purchase a bottle when their child is born, to save and drink with them when the child turns 21 years of age.
We also learned about Pálinka, a traditional fruit brandy, and Unicum, a Hungarian herbal liquer, also known as a “digestive”. With a high alcohol content, I am sure it has no trouble digesting anything. We stopped at one meat counter and the butcher was quite the comedian, with a sheep skull popping out for photos. We soon strolled down to the lower level of the market and meandered through all of the pickled food stalls and then returned outside to catch our cab to the cooking school.
Time for some Hungarian cooking with Chefparade Cooking School
Now that we understood all of the basic ingredients for Hungarian cooking, it was time to put that knowledge to work. We took a short 5 minute cab ride over to the Chefparade cooking school. We arrived to a very well-organized and professional kitchen and work areas. The room was set for us with 3 work stations and Cili was also going to be our master chef.
Once we were all adorned in our cute and colorful aprons, it was time to get a little instruction and understand how the remainder of the day would flow. We had 3 courses on the menu to prepare, all of which are of Hungarian origin.
- Soup: Krumplileves / Creamy potato soup with sausage.
- Entrée: Paprikáscsirke nokedlivel / Chicken paprika with noodles (dumplings).
- Dessert: Somlói Galuska / Chocolate sponge cake.
We started by making the dessert as a group, as this takes some time to chill and set. This would allow all of the ingredients to work their magic while we were preparing the other dishes. One pair of students made the sponge cake, another pair made the custard and the final pair created the chocolate sauce, as well as the rum sauce. As you may have guessed, we were not too diligent with measuring the rum.
When the sponge cake (one chocolate and one vanilla) was baked and cooled, it was sliced in half to make two layers out of each cake (4 cake layers in total). We then placed one layer of the sponge cake in the pan. We poured on some of the rum raisin mixture over the sponge cake, then layered with the vanilla custard and topped with a sprinkle of the ground walnuts. We repeated the process until all of the sponge cake was used. We had 4 layers of cake, so this was quite the creation. Once all of the layers were complete, it was covered and drenched with a hot chocolate sauce and dusted with the remaining ground walnuts. We then placed in the fridge to allow the custard to set.
On to the soup! The Hungarian dishes aren’t shy of paprika and we loved that! This was a simple soup with potatoes and sausage. I normally wouldn’t think to slice up sausage, similar to pepperoni, and add to the soup, but it was delicious. Cili was excellent with advising all of the cooking groups and she was fantastic with the kids. It was nice spending a day indoors cooking some comfort food, as it was a bit dreary and damp outside on this day. As the soup was simmering and melding all of the flavors of celery root, sausage, paprika, potatoes and sour cream together, it was time to prepare the main dish.
Our main dish was the traditional Chicken Paprika! Surprise, more paprika and there were no complaints from us. Actually prior to the course, we were sent the Chefparade menu and asked to select the dishes we wanted to prepare. We gathered all of the ingredients (onions, tomatoes, oil, paprika, chicken and a little flour to make the roux and thicken the sauce) and all made our flavorful, traditional Hungarian dish. It took a while to cook, so while the rich and spicy sauce was all soaking into the chicken, we moved on to making the home-made noodles (dumplings).
This was so much fun for the kids, actually it was fun for us all. We made a group batch of the noodle dough and it was poured into something similar to a cheese grater, with a little container on top. We just placed the grater over the pot of boiling water and grated the pasta dough into the water. Within minutes it was done and time for another batch. We all had our turn with this and found it to be loads of fun. We have a little snippet of this in action in our video at the bottom of this post..
After all of the preparation, it was time to eat! We really enjoyed the fruits of our labor and the sauce on the chicken was to die for! It is amazing how simple it can be to make a great meal, when you have a good recipe and a great instructor. We are now confident in making this dish on our own. We look forward to enjoying these dishes again and remembering our day at the cooking school.
We highly recommend you spend a 1/2 day cooking with Chefparade – Budapest. They were professional and full of information about cooking, ingredients and Hungarian culture. It was fascinating to learn the types of dishes which are made for special occasions and guests, as well as their everyday meals. You have a choice of booking just the cooking class or adding on the tour and/or breakfast at The Great Market Hall. I do recommend doing the tour, as you learn so much.
This is a great family activity in Budapest or any destination for that matter. I think cooking classes are going to have to be a tradition for Wagoners Abroad going forward, as we have had such a positive experience. Check out the video below for a little visual taste of our day.
We really enjoyed the Hungarian Market and Cooking Class and would recommend booking a class with Chefparade. They also offer a chocolate course that looks delicious!
Chefparade Cooking School
Telephone: +36 20 3161876
Our experience was sponsored by Chefparade.
This review is our honest personal opinion from our experience.
There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour. There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you.