Yes, I am in The Netherlands. Yes, the best Hungarian food is probably back in Budapest. But! There are quite some of us Hungarians around here in Amsterdam too and we so miss the tastes of home that every once in a while we just must cook up some of those delicious dishes of the motherland! The chef of the night was Gellért and we made túrógombóc (cottage cheese dumplings I guess? maybe cheesecake balls?) – here we go:
You start the preparations for this sweet and filling meal a few hours ahead because the dollop needs a two hour nap in the fridge before the next steps. This part is crucial because unless the portions are right, your balls of cheese will fall apart easily. So, in a bowl you basically just mix cottage cheese, raisins, and breadcrumbs. You don’t want it to become too dry but also not too liquid: try 50dg cottage cheese, 3 eggs, 2dl flour, but it may vary.
Now that this is done you have some time to read upon the one and only amazing Hungarian cook featured in this post! Though Gellért is Hungarian and he couldn’t hide it with this name even if he wanted to, he is still as international as it can get – he lived abroad basically by the time he could formulate a full-length sentence and ended up spending around 13 years in Malaysia, heading occasionally over to Australia or New Zealand, later on visiting the US…I won’t even try to complete the list, but let’s just say he is heading home for Christmas to Oman this year, which is just too amazing! We are both cracking the business master’s in the heart of Holland and get into the occasional nostalgia on the little things of home, such as a delicious piece of sportszelet, swimming in Lake Balaton, or just saying egészségedre without someone thinking that we are choking.
It’s time to go on with preparing the túrógombóc! Put on a big bowl of water to boil and another small one for the compote. In the latter you boil the cherries on low heat, add cinnamon, juice of a lemon, vanilla sugar, and a pinch of flour to it and keep stirring, making it into a jam-sauce kind of mix. While that’s cooking, get out the mix from the fridge, water your hands a little bit. Then you shape handful of balls and gently drop them into the boiling water. This is also the time of justice regarding whether you managed a fine consistency, the balls should more or less keep the shape and boil as long as coming up to the surface of the water.
Watch out for the jam-sauce thingy! When it looks alright, you mash the cherry pieces with a fork or spoon a little to make it smoother, then put it away to cool down a bit. You can use this already hot spot of the stove to heat up a pan that you completely fill up with breadcrumbs to toast a bit. The ready balls will roll around in here right before going on your plate. The last touch to this tasty meal is sour cream, powder sugar, and optional mint leaves on top – the picture below explains it best! Yummmm.
Whenever someone asks me what food I miss most from home, I usually say sour cream, because it’s just not the same here. But what is even worse, there is just no túró AT ALL. And I have got to keep using the Hungarian expression, because there is no term for it in English. Because you cannot buy it anywhere abroad. Because it’s as magyar as possible. This leads to my last note on this tasty meal: if you decide to prepare it (and looking at this picture I’m pretty sure you will), try to look for a Hungarian shop and buy some of the real túró – cottage cheese or ricotta are really just fine substitutes.
Gellért and I ate a few of these balls and we could both only do one thing: smile. It wasn’t simply just delicious but became one of those great meals which reminds you of home, of the days when your mom cooks something simple but sweet on a Sunday.
Köszönöm a gombócokat! And of course good appetite, aka jóétvágyat, to all the readers!