Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Treppenwitz mentions that he and his eyshes chayil had dinner at a shakshuka place in Tel Aviv. Now, for those who don't know, shakshuka is an Israeli dish that involves eggs, peppers, and tomatoes.

One of the key passages in his post is this:
"Don't people wear clothes in Tel Aviv! I mean seriously, who needs 'pron' when you can simply stroll through the mall and be literally assaulted by thongs, bikini lines and boob jobs for free? And irony of irony, I forgot to wear my concealed holster for my gun (which I try to do when in Tel Aviv), so as we walked through the mall, people were glaring at me like I'd just opened my raincoat to flash a bunch of girl scouts! "
See, that's an attention grabber right there. Go on over and read the entire thing.
And if you feel that in order to truly understand the Treppenwitzian gestalt you must flash a bunch of girl scouts, so be it.

[Note: Little Chinese-American Girl Scouts would probably be best. Their screams are high-pitched and piercing, they can produce more volume than an equivalent number of little blondes, their outrage is both more fierce, and more deliciously indignant. Let me know what you think.]

I've just got to visit Tel Aviv one of these days.


Of course, Treppenwitz's post immediately reminded me of a posting on Dovbear's blog from two years ago, right after Tisha B'Av.

The key that connects these two posts consists of peppers and tomatoes. Not girl scouts.
Dov has, to my knowledge, never mentioned girls scouts (probably an oversight).

Dovbear has, however, spoken of Holishkes, Delkelech, Shlishkes, Nokrln (nokerly), Kokkos, and Rockett-Crumbly.
Also referenced at some point were Makkos and Diyusz, Gulyasz and Lekvar.
Plus Letsho.
This was in another Dovbearian post (which also made no mention of girl scouts).

[Stuffed cabbage (gevikkelde krote/holupches/golubzhi) filled with meat, rice, poppy seeds; Type of filled turnover; Potato dumplings twixt gnocchi and tater tots (fried); Little boiled dumplings; Rolled yeast-dough chocolate cake; Casserole of potato layers, sliced onion, and hardboiled eggs baked in butter and smetana.
A kokkos made with poppy seed filling and a kokkos made with ground up walnuts.
Meat stewed with peppers, paprika, onion, and garlic; and a dense plum or apricot goop to fill pastries, which are also valled lekvar.
Sautéed and seethed onions, peppers, and tomatoes, often with eggs or sausage.]

Some people would argue that letsho HAS to be flavoured with paprika.
As does nearly all other food.

My mother added paprika to almost everything. Rice? Add paprika! Eggs? Add paprika! Chicken? Add paprika! Hamburger patties? Brown bean soup? Add paprika! Add paprika! Tomato salad? Add .......
She even made spaghetti sauce with paprika.

The other spice she loved was caraway seed.

Which brings us to today's recipe.


1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces.
2 garlic cloves, minced.
2 onions, thinly sliced.
2 - 4 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika.
1/2 cup chicken stock.
4 Tbsp sour cream (*).
A very generous pinch of ground caraway seed.
Olive oil, or butter, or bacon grease (*).
Salt and pepper.

Gild the onions and garlic. Rub the chicken bits with oil, plus salt, pepper, and some of the paprika. Add to the pan and brown slightly. Now add the remaining paprika and the ground caraway, stir to mix, and add the chicken stock and enough water to barely cover. Simmer for about half an hour, then stir in the sour cream.

Garnish with plenty of chopped parsley.

(*) If you keep kosher, only use olive oil, and omit the sour cream. In which case, use less paprika.

You would probably also like purkult: diced meat simmered with onions, peppers, paprika, and wine. Tomato may be included, but it is better without. Just rely on the onions, peppers, paprika, and wine to make the sauce zesty. A pinch of caraway may also be added. Simmer till the sauce has been reduced considerably and the tough gamey meat softened.



The Little Chinese-American Girl Scouts mentioned above can probably be pacified by a good meal. They'll still justifiably consider you a horrid pervert and an ugly hairy monster, but they'll be in a much better mood after eating at a nice Hungarian restaurant.
Far less murderous in any case; you want them less murderous.


Tzipporah said...

In which case, use less paprika.

Umm, what?? NEVER, ever, use LESS paprika. You may use more, but never less.

Also, no mention of hot paprika?

Here's how we do it at Casa BC:

-olive oil
-A bunch of chicken parts (1 whole cut up would work fine, although I often use thighs b/c I can't be bothered with butchering the chicken)
-1 big onion, CHOPPED
-2 garlic cloves
-generous splash of white wine
-big heap of sweet Hungarian paprika (4 Tbsp would be about right)
-small dash of hot Hungarian paprika
-can of stewed tomatoes
-1-2 cups water or chicken stock

Brown the chicken parts in oil, remove to a bowl. Add the onions to the remaining oil/chicken fat mixture and cook until translucent. Squeeze the garlic in a garlic press and add to onions, cook a minute or two.

Remove from heat (THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL) and add the paprikas. Stir.

Add wine and stir to deglaze. Add chicken back to pan and return to heat. Add tomatos and stock or water, and simmer for at least an hour (in the winter it goes on in the early afternoon and cooks until dinnertime).

I have often wanted to try it just with some roasted peppers instead of tomatoes, but Bad Cohen gives me the stink eye when I suggest it, because it goes against family tradition.

1) good paprika should be stored in the freezer, not on the shelf. It will preserve the flavor longer.
2) We pull the pan off the heat before adding the paprika because burned (or even overheated) paprika is apparently one of the signs of the apocalypse, or something like that. I suspect there was a Paprika Incident at some point in the family's culinary past which has made this the only step in the recipe that must be related in ALL CAPS (even verbally).

Tzipporah said...

Also, goulash is essentially exactly the same, except with red meat instead of chicken, and red wine instead of white.


damn, now I'm hungry.

The back of the hill said...

We pull the pan off the heat before adding the paprika because burned (or even overheated) paprika is apparently one of the signs of the apocalypse, or something like that.

I tend to add a hefty splash sherry to deglaze IMMEDIATELY after adding paprika. But as that is not a standard part of any Hungarian recipe, I did not mention it above. Paprika very very slightly toasted by the heat is nice, paprika burned, however, is nasty.

I suspect there was a Paprika Incident at some point in the family's culinary past which has made this the only step in the recipe that must be related in ALL CAPS (even verbally).

My mother, no matter how eccentric her culinary skills (let alone her practice of same), never ever burned the paprika. Had she done so, a time-space portal would likely have opened up in the kitchen with four savage horsemen thundering through.

Oddly, she never connected fresh peppers with paprika - in her mind, they were always eternally different. She never considered sambal or hot sauce in any way related to peppers or paprika either. Fresh peppers were a vegetable. Paprika was a spice. Cayenne was excessive. And sambal & hot sauce were barbarian inventions that signaled the downfall of all civilized values.

I, of course, rely on sambal and hot-sauce. And often use both in the same dish.

GRANT!PATEL! said...

Clearly Balkanese variants of Murgh Makhni. Beyond which none other there.

---Grant Kookarwallah

GRANT!PATEL! said...

The fresh peppers must be hot. Otherwise why bother. Garnids with little green chopped chilies.

--Grant Bahutmirchkesaath

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