A Recipe from Mami's Kitchen: Cucumber Salad

cucumber cucumber salad hungarian food salad

A Recipe from Mami's Kitchen


My maternal grandmother, Mami, was of Austrian and Hungarian ancestry. She did the majority of the cooking at our home when I was growing up in Budapest since my parents were busy running their restaurant that was situated just below our house. I didn’t always know if I was eating Hungarian or Austrian food and still get surprised to this day when I find one of her old recipes in a cookbook.

One day my Mami told me to try a salad dish she always served with chicken paprikash. I had absolutely no desire to taste it because it looked a lot like pickled herring (which I still can’t eat to this day).  She insisted that I try it and told me to spit it out if I did not like it. So I did what Mami told me to do and tried it (how can you say no to your grandmother?). And WOW was I surprised by how great it tasted! The crunchiness of the cucumbers was awesome and the flavor of the sauce was a perfect compliment to the chicken paprikash.

I still serve Mami’s Hungarian cucumber salad almost every time I make my chicken paprikash. I like it so much, I can make it my entire meal!
I hope you enjoy making and most importantly eating this amazing cucumber salad. I look forward to sharing more recipes from Mami’s kitchen in the coming months. (Stay tuned for her Austrian potato plum dumpling recipe…)

Mami's Cucumber Salad

Makes 6-8 servings

3 English seedless cucumbers
1 tablespoon of salt
2 teaspoons of Hungarian sweet paprika
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup of sour cream
Peel and thinly slice cucumbers. Place in a bowl and mix with salt. Cover and place in refrigerator to cure for at least 2 hours to draw out the water and encourage a crunchy texture.*
After curing, take the cucumbers in handfuls and press the water out by cupping and squeezing them between your hands as if making a snowball.  Place the cucumbers back in the mixing bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients into the mixing bowl and combine with the cured cucumbers. Cover and return to the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
*Jozsef’s cooking note: Feel free to leave salted cucumbers overnight in the refrigerator, or to start the curing process in the morning before serving the cucumber salad for dinner. This helps the cucumbers become more crunchy.

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  • Thomas Combs on

    Sounds like what my grandmother Livia Balazs used to make, but she always topped it with a sprinkle of paprika to give it a special look. Delicious.

  • Kenneth Dobbins on

    Good on day one. Better on day two. Best on day three!

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