Beef Goulash

Kul Aşi

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in


By David Dale and Somer Sivrioglu

Published 2015

  • About

There’s too much mythology and not enough research in discussions about food in Turkey. Turkish chefs like to claim the Hungarians got their word ‘goulash’ from the Turkish term kul aşi (which means ‘common man’s dish’—a stew served to soldiers 300 years ago). But, if they’d bothered to check, they’d find that in Hungarian the word gulyas means a ‘cattle herder’, and since the ninth century, the Hungarian herders have been in the habit of carrying beef and vegetables and making a kind of stew out in the field.

Throughout the seventeenth century, the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire regularly met the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in battles for the control of Vienna. Presumably, the Turkish troops were eating kul aşi on one side while the Hungarians were eating goulash on the other. Both would have been flavouring their stews with peppers, which arrived from the Americas in the early 1500s and were first cultivated by Turks living in Budapest.


  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) topside or chuck steak
  • 2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 green bullhorn peppers (or 1 large green capsicum/pepper)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 boiling potatoes
  • 1 parsnip
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon capsicum (pepper) paste
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste (to make your own)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 celery leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • rice pilav, to serve


Chop the beef into cubes about 3 cm ( in) wide. Toss in the flour, then shake off the excess.

Finely chop the onions and the garlic. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Remove the stalks and seeds from the peppers and chop. Chop the carrot, potatoes and parsnip.

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium–high and brown the beef cubes evenly for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, peppers, capsicum paste and tomato paste. Stir for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaf, celery leaves and 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) of water, then bring to boil.

Add the vegetables and the spices. Continue to boil over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the potato and parsnip are soft.

Serve with rice pilav.