We consider it to be among our most interestingly named foods, but like countless other dishes we have, barátfüle (friend’s ear) has countless other unique names. Its most popular name may be derelye, but earlier reports suggest that it started its career as laska. However, this name is already used for countless Transylvanian dough-based foods. The recipe for derelye first showed up in Hungary in a 1786 cookbook. Originating from the Palóc region, it often plays a role in Hungarian folk tales as a main course meal.
Translated by Tamás Vaski
Derelye can be filled with either plum jam or cottage cheese, but potato and dill curd fillings are also well known. In fact, a 17th century Ottoman explorer by the name of Evliya Çelebi even mentioned derelye stuffed with meat. Since then, countless other recipes have been born around the original. One individual may prepare it with a simple, kneaded dough, while another may use potatoes instead. But where does the barátfüle name come from?
In the 19th century, there was an inn owned by an individual known as Freund. Freund’s specialty was a jam-filled dough, which was first boiled in water, then baked in oil. The dish was presented on the menu as Freunds Gefüllte Tasche in German, or “Freund’s Stuffed Satchel” in English.
The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 impacted the popular menu item, and even Freund took on the Hungarian name of Barát (friend). The enthusiastic translator responsible for updating the menu, who was not so fluent in Hungarian, could not quite figure out that “gefüllte” meant “filled” in Hungarian. Thus, deciding that the similar sounding word for ear (fül) was close enough, the menu at Barát’s Inn now contained not only “Freunds gefüllte Tasche,” but also “Barát füle” (“Friend’s Ear”). This is how the name spread, of course Freund’s dough-base did not entirely correspond to today’s derelye, but today both refer to the same thing. By the way, derelye, or barátfüle, is a popular dish during Lent in Hungary. Therefore, we can say that it is currently in season.
Ingredients (for 32 pieces):
- 400 g flour
- 4 eggs
- 1 jar of plum jam
- 6-8 tablespoons of oil
- A quarter of a bag of breadcrumbs
- Powdered sugar for serving
- Salt for boiling water
Knead the flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt into dough. If it is too hard or not kneadable, add some water to loosen it up. Split the dough into two halves and let it sit for 20 minutes. While the dough sits, fry the breadcrumbs in oil until they are browned.
Stretch the two pieces of dough until they are very thin, around 1 mm thick. Place teaspoon sized dabs of plum jam evenly onto one of the halves of each piece. Fold the other half of the dough onto the half with jam, then using your fingers, push down the dough surrounding the jam clumps. Cut it up with a small pizza cutter.
Press a fork around the ends of each piece to close them off. Once this is done, repeat the same process for the second piece of dough.
Fill a large pot with water and set it to boil, then pour salt into it. Boil the derelye pieces in portions of 2-3. Once they are boiled, roll each piece in the fried breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Photos and featured photo by Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today