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Basic Beef Goulash

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A bowl of beef goulash

Goulash is a Hungarian meat stew. What makes it different from other meat stews is the strong flavour of paprika, and the sour cream. Known in Hungary as 'gulyas', it was made by herdsmen in a pot over a campfire using any sort of meat available. This recipe uses beef and is designed to be made in an oven.


If you're not familiar with paprika, don't worry about it making a dish so hot that you can't eat it. There are two types of paprika.

  • Sweet paprika is the normal one in the UK and Ireland. It's also known as édes, süß or dolce. It is full of flavour, but not hot at all.
  • Hot paprika is very spicy. It is also known as erös, scharf or picante.

This recipe is made with the sweet paprika. If you like things spicy, you can substitute the hotter variety, or you can add a quantity of cayenne pepper/chilli powder, but you'll have to work out the quantities yourself.


This recipe is designed as a meal for eight people. It is very good if you want to feed a lot of people, because you can prepare it in advance and leave it standing, then it only takes a minute to stick it in the oven at the appropriate moment, leaving you plenty of time to prepare other food, serve drinks etc. It can be served with rice, although in some countries pasta is preferred.


Oven-proof casserole dish


  • 3 lb (1.4kg) steak pieces
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tins (800g) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 1 carton sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons of flour (use gluten-free flour if cooking for coeliacs)
  • oil for frying
  • salt


Feeds 8 people.

Chop the steak into small pieces (about 1cm cubes) and trim off any really excessive lumps of fat - small amounts of fat are OK.

Sprinkle the flour on the meat, then fry it gently to brown it on the outside. If your casserole dish can be placed on the hob, you can do this in it. Otherwise, use a frying pan. Put the meat to one side, then fry up the onions. When they are golden brown, add the crushed garlic and fry for about 30 seconds.

Add the tin of tomatoes, the meat and the paprika and heat until it is simmering gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to the casserole dish and bake in the oven at 140°C for 2 hours. Add the chopped peppers and bake for another 30 minutes. During this 30 minutes you can make your rice.

Remove the dish from the oven, add the sour cream and stir - it's important that the cream is only added at the last minute as you don't want it to get too hot, as it will curdle. This doesn't affect the taste, but doesn't look great.

Serve with the rice. You may like to sprinkle some more paprika on top just for the look of it.

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