Many of us know this classic Hungarian dish as “dödölle,” but it has many more names, including “ganca,” “cinke,” “gánica,” and so on. Although its many names would imply that it is still a favorite, unfortunately, just like other old Hungarian peasant dishes, it is disappearing from plates in the country. It is a bit too complicated to prepare as a garnish, but it is not as popular in itself as it was when poor peasants made it as a main course.
However, there is no need to fear it will completely disappear, as it is still in the public consciousness, and in Nagykanizsa, the “capital” of dödölle, there is a popular Wine and Dödölle festival held every year, where even a Guinness record was set in 2006 by making 2,331 servings of Dödölle at the same time. This dish tells a lot about its home, Zala county’s attachment to neighboring Slovenia, because they prepare this Hungarian classic as well. I, for one, once even saw it with the same name on a hotel buffet.
The history of this Hungarian oldie may have started at the same time as the history of potatoes in Europe, as for the traditional dödölle, we only need potatoes and flour to prepare, and it is almost mandatory to serve it with sour cream and roasted onions. Back in the day, it was so popular that even a children’s rhyme mentions it and of which surely every Hungarian knows the first lines:
600 g potatoes (peeled, to weigh about 0.5 kg)
150 g flour
5 teaspoons fat/lard to fry the onion and another 5 to fry the dödölle
1 large head of onion
1 tbsp red pepper
salt to taste
2 dl sour cream for serving
Peel the potatoes and dice them. Pour enough water over it to cover, add a pinch of salt and then cook. Do not pour the water off the boiled potatoes, but mash them with the water with a potato masher. Add the flour to the mashed potatoes and knead it together over the heater in a pot. It will be difficult to mix, but try to knead it for a few minutes until thoroughly mixed. It is good if the mass is homogeneous and separates from the wall of the pot. Then chop the onion, simmer it in fat, and after taking it off the heat, add the red pepper and a little salt. Then scoop smaller pieces out of the mixed potato-flour dough with a spoon and fry both sides in the fat until it turns golden brown. Before serving, sprinkle the prepared dish with roasted onion and serve with sour cream.