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Dumplings are cooked balls of dough. They are based on flour, potatoes or bread, and may include meat, fish, vegetables, or sweets. They may be cooked by boiling, steaming, simmering, frying, or baking. They may have a filling, or there may be other ingredients mixed into the dough. Dumplings may be sweet or savoury. They can be eaten by themselves, in soups or stews, with gravy, or in any other way. While some dumplings resemble solid water-boiled doughs, such as gnocchi, others such as wontons resemble meatballs with a thin dough covering.
Banku and kenkey fit the definition of a dumpling in that they are starchy balls of dough that are steamed. They are formed from fermented cornmeal dough. Banku are boiled while kenkey are partly boiled then finished by steaming in banana leaves. Fufu may be described as a dumpling although in actual sense, it is not. Fufu is made by pounding boiled cassava (common in Ghana) or yam (common in Nigeria) in a wooden mortar with a wooden pestle. Plantain or cocoyam may be added. There are several other versions of fufu in Africa and the Caribbean. There have been other versions of fufu which will fit better into the definition of dumplings. These are mostly common outside Africa where they originate. It is made by steaming cassava and plantain/cocoyam flour into thick starchy balls.
Souskluitjies are dumplings found in South Africa. They are a steamed sweet dumpling, sometimes made with plain flour and sometimes with the addition of dried fruits or other flavors. They are often served with a syrup flavored with cinnamon or a custard sauce.
South Africa has another kind of dumpling known as melkkos. These dumplings are formed by putting milk, one teaspoon at a time, into a dry flour mixture. The flour clings to the milk and forms dumplings, which are then boiled in a mixture of milk and butter. They are served hot and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.
Savoury dumplings made from balls of dough are part of traditional British and Irish cuisine. Traditionally dumplings are made from twice the weight of self raising flour to suet, bound together by cold water to form a dough and seasoned with salt and pepper. Balls of this dough are dropped into a bubbling pot of stew or soup, or into a casserole. They sit, partly submerged in the stew, and expand as they are half-boiled half-steamed for ten minutes or so. The cooked dumplings are airy on the inside and moist on the outside. The dough may be flavoured with herbs, or it may have cheese pressed into its centre.
After beef stew is finished, a dessert can be created by topping the dumplings and gravy with sugar.
The Norfolk dumpling is not made with fat, but from flour and a raising agent. Cotswold dumplings call for the addition of breadcrumbs and cheese, and the balls of dough may be rolled in breadcrumbs and fried, rather than cooked in a soup or stew. Vegetarian dumplings can be made with vegetable suet, a type of shredded vegetable fat.
Ravioli and tortellini fit the basic definition of a dumpling: these are pockets of pasta enclosing various fillings (cheese, mushrooms, spinach, seafood, or meat). Instead of being made from a ball of dough, the dough is rolled flat, cut into a shape, filled with other ingredients, and then the dough is closed around the filling. Gnocchi (Spanish: ñoquis, widely adopted in Argentina, Portuguese: nhoque, Slovene: Njoki) is a different kind of Italian dumpling. The word gnocchi literally means "lumps", and they are rolled and shaped from a mixture of egg with potato, semolina, flour, or ricotta cheese (with or without spinach). The lumps are boiled in water and served with melted butter, grated cheese, or other pasta sauces.
In Norway, dumplings have a vast variety of names, as the dialects differ substantially. Names include potetball, klubb, kløbb, raspeball, komle, kumle, kompe, kumpe, kodla, kudle, klot, kams, ball, baill, komperdøse, kumperdøse, kompadøs, ruter, ruta, raskekako, risk, klotremat, krumme and kromme. They are usually made from potatoes and various types of flour, and then boiled. Occasionally they contain pork meat, such as bacon, in the middle. In some areas it is common to serve the dumplings with syrup.
In Sweden, potato dumplings mainly have two names. In the northern parts they are usually called Palt, or Pitepalt, and are filled with salted pork and eaten with melted butter and lingonberry jam. In southern Sweden, and Öland, the potato dumpling is called Kroppkaka, and is usually filled with smoked pork, raw onions and coarsely ground pepper, usually served with cream and lingonberry jam. On Öland, the south-eastern coast and in the north the dumplings are made mainly from raw potatoes, whereas in the southern mainland boiled potatoes are mainly in use. Flour dumplings for use in soup are called Klimp.
Germany, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia boast a large variety of dumplings, both sweet and savoury. A dumpling is called Kloß in Northern Germany, Knödel, Nockerl or Knöpfle in Southern Germany and Austria. These are flour dumplings, the most common dumplings, thin or thick, made with eggs and semolina flour, boiled in water. Meat dumplings (called Klopse or Klöpse in North-Eastern Germany, Knöpfle and Nocken in Southern Germany) contain meat or liver. Liver dumplings are frequent additions to soup. Thüringer Klöße are made from raw or boiled potatoes, or a mixture of both, and are often filled with croutons. Bread dumplings are made with white bread and are sometimes shaped like a loaf of bread, and boiled in a napkin, in which case they are known as napkin dumplings (Serviettenknödel).
Maultaschen are a Swabian (Baden-Württemberg) specialty food, consisting of an outer layer of pasta dough with a filling traditionally made of sausage meat, spinach, bread crumbs and onions and flavored with various spices. Similar in appearance to Italian ravioli, Maultaschen are usually larger, however, each Maultasche being about 8–12 cm (3-5 inches) across.
In Hungary, dumplings are called galuska or nokedli - small lumps cut from a thick flour and egg batter and dropped into boiling water, similar to the German Spätzle, Knöpfle, or Knödel. Sweet dumplings are made with flour and potato dough, which is wrapped around whole plums or apricots, and then boiled and rolled in hot buttered bread crumbs. Shlishkes or “Krumplinudli” are small boiled potato dumplings made from the same potato dough as the sweet plum dumplings, also rolled in hot buttered bread crumbs.
In Czech cuisine dumplings have two main forms:
Bryndzové halušky, considered the Slovak national dish, are small potato dumplings without a filling, served with salty sheep's cheese on top. The same dumplings are also used to create a similar dish, strapačky. Also available are their related stuffed version called pirohy, usually filled with bryndza (bryndzové pirohy), quark cheese, potatoes, onions, cabbage, mushrooms, or meat.
Idrijski žlikrofi are Slovenian dumplings, regionally located in the town of Idrija. They are made from dough with potato filling and have a characteristic form of a hat. Žlikrofi are made by a traditional recipe from the 19th century, but the source of the recipe is unknown due to lack of historical sources. The dish may be served as a starter or a side dish to meat based dishes. Žlikrofi were the first Slovenian food to be classified as a Traditional speciality guaranteed dish.
Pierogi of Poland, varenyky of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and pelmeni of Russia are ravioli-like crescent-shaped dumplings filled with savoury or sweet filling. The genuine Russian Pelmeni must be made only of menaced meat with addition of onions and spices, sometimes the meat used is only beef, in other recipes is a mixture of beef with pork and/or ram. Pelmeni should be juicy inside. The are nothing to do with pasta with which they are sometimes compared. It's a savoury main dish. They are usually boiled in water with spices and solt, or in meat bouillon, sometimes fried before serving. They are often served with plenty of sour cream. Kluski are a different variety of Polish dumplings.
"Little ears", variously called uszka in Poland, ushki (ушки) in Russia, vushka (вушка) in Ukraine, and vushki (вушкі) in Belarus, are folded ring-shaped dumplings similar in shape to Italian tortellini or Jewish kreplach. They are stuffed with meat or mushrooms and traditionally served in borshch or clear soup. In Romania, "little ears" (Romanian: urechiuşe) are also served in dumpling soup (supă de găluşte)
Lithuanian dough dumplings are called koldūnai and virtiniai. Usually they are filled with meat or curd. One of the varieties is called Šaltanosiai and is made with blueberry filling. There are also potato dumplings called cepelinai or didžkukuliai, filled with meat or curd inside, served with soured cream. A similar dish exists in Belarus that is called klyocki (клёцкi).
In Russian cuisine, the most common type of dumplings is pelmeni, which are usually filled with meat, traditionally with a combination of pork, beef and mutton (or game meat). Fish pelmeni are also known.
In Siberia, especially popular with the Buryat peoples are dumplings called pozi (buuz in Mongolian, from Chinese: 包子; pinyin: bāozi). They are usually made with an unleavened dough, but are often encountered leavened. The traditional filling is meat, but the kind of meat and how it is processed varies. In Mongolia, mutton is favored, and is chopped rather than ground; pork and beef mixes are more popular in Russia. Unlike most other European dumplings, a poza is cooked over steam, not boiled.
Meat-filled manti in Armenia are typically served with yogurt or sour cream, accompanied by clear soup. Mantapour is an Armenian beef soup with manti. Dushbara (Azerbaijan: Düşbərə) is an Azeri soup with tiny lamb-filled dumplings. Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) are Georgian dumpling usually filled with spiced meat.
Boraki (Armenian: Բորակի) are a kind of Armenian fried pelmeni. The main difference between boraki and traditional pelmeni is that the minced meat is pre-fried, the boraki are formed as small cylinders with an open top, the cylinders are lightly boiled in broth and then fried. Boraki are served garnished with yogurt and chopped garlic.
Several types of dumplings are popular in the United States. Bite-sized, hand-torn pieces of dough are cooked in boiling chicken broth along with a variety of vegetables to make the dish chicken and dumplings which is served as a thick soup. Chicken and dumplings is a popular comfort food in the Southern and Midwestern U.S.
Dumplings are often used as part of the regionally popular Burgoo stew.
The baked dumpling is popular in American cuisine. These sweet dumplings are made by wrapping fruit, frequently a whole tart apple, in pastry, then baking until the pastry is browned and the filling is tender. As an alternative to simply baking them, these dumplings are surrounded by a sweet sauce in the baking dish, and may be basted during cooking. Popular flavours for apple dumplings include brown sugar, caramel, or cinnamon sauces.
Boiled dumplings are made from flour to form a dough. A pot of boiling chicken or turkey broth is used to cook this dough. The thickness and the size of the dumplings is at the cook's discretion. The size does not affect the taste but the thickness does. It is optional to serve with the meat in the dish or on the side.
Dumplings can be made with eggs, milk, baking powder or even yeast, or just from flour and water. Rolled dumplings are rolled thin and cut into small pieces for cooking, while dropped dumplings are formed into small balls.
Tortilla dumplings are made by adding tortillas and fillings to a boiling pot of stock. Popular varieties of Southern dumplings include chicken dumplings, turkey dumplings, strawberry dumplings, apple dumplings, ham dumplings, and even butter-bean dumplings.
In addition, considering stuffed dumplings throughout Latin America, there are empanadas, whose stuffing, manufacture and types are numerous and varied. Empanadas differ from traditional dumplings in that they are deep fried or steamed and excess dough is not cut off.
Dumplings are either pan fried using a simple recipe including all-purpose flour, water, and salt made into a thick dough before frying on a pan until golden brown, or boiled in a soup. The fried version is usually served with breakfast codfish as a side.
In Barbados, dumplings differ from those in other Caribbean islands in that they are slightly sweetened. The dumplings may either be of the flour or cornmeal variety. The dough is flavoured with spice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Dumplings are often added with Bajan soup where they are boiled. When found in Stew food, they dumplings are steamed along with ground provision, salted meat, plantain and other ingredients which is served with gravy.
Dumplings come in three forms in Jamaica, fried, boiled, and roasted. All are made with flour, white or wheat, and the white-floured dumplings are often mixed with a bit of cornmeal. These foods are often served with a variety of dishes like ackee and saltfish, kidneys, liver salt mackerel, etc. and often taste better when refried. A refried dumpling is an already boiled dumpling left over from previous cooking that is fried, which gives it a slightly crispy outer layer and a tender middle. A purely fried white flour dumpling (also known as a "[Johnny Cake") is golden brown and looks a lot like buñuelos, often substituting the boiled dumpling, but it is mostly consumed as part of breakfast. Fried dumplings can be made with or without sugar. When mixed with sugar, cornmeal and baking powder and fried, this variation is called festival. This delicious variation goes well when served with fried fish, or any other traditional Jamaican home food.
It derived from the Akan cuisine of Bofrot, with the exclusion of vanilla and yeast. For Jamaican dumplings, however, sugar and butter is optional as they are various ways to make it in Jamaica.
In Brazil, there are pastels, coxinhas, and bolinhas de carne which are fried dumplings filled with chicken, pork or beef mixed with olives, onions and spices. It is common to eat these on the beach or after work with fruit smoothies, beer, or fruity alcoholic drinks known as batidas.
"Papas Rellenas" or stuffed potatoes consist of a handful of mashed potatoes (without the milk and butter) flattened in the palm of the hand and stuffed with a savoury combination of ingredients. The stuffing usually consists of sautéed meat (could be beef, pork or chicken), onions and garlic. They are all seasoned with cumin, aji, raisins, peanuts, olives and sliced or chopped hard boiled eggs. After stuffing a ball is formed, rolled over flour and deep fried in hot oil. The stuffed potatoes are usually accompanied by onion sauce consisting of sliced onions, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and slices of fresh peppers. The same dish may also be made with seafood. In some countries, yuca purée is used as the starch component of these Latin American dumplings.
In Puerto Rico, dumplings are made of grated tubers such as yuca and malanga with added calabaza, unripe bananas and plantains mixed with flour. This dumplings are a traditional part in Puerto Rican style pigeon pea soup. Olive oil and annatto are usually added and help the mix from turning brown. The dumplings are formed into small balls and are first cooked in olive oil before boiling. Once the dumplings are crispy on the outside, they are then boiled with added ingredients.
Another dumpling that originated in Puerto Rico is the pasteles, a dumpling made of grated root vegetables, squash, plantains, and unripe bananas. The masa is then mixed with milk and annatto oil, and they are stuffed with stewed pork, chick peas, olives, capers and raisins. They are then placed on a banana leaf, tied and then boiled. The origin of pasteles leads back to Natives on the island of Borikén. Pasteles are popular in the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Trinidad and lately seen in Cuban cuisine.
Steamed dumplings are found throughout the region.
A common legend goes that dumplings were first invented in the era of the Three Kingdoms, around 225 AD. Zhuge Liang, a general and minister of Shu Han, dammed up a poison marsh on his southern campaign against the Nanman with dumplings instead of the heads that the Nanman used.
The jiaozi (餃子/饺子) is a common Chinese dumpling which generally consists of minced meat and finely chopped vegetables wrapped into a piece of dough skin. The skin can be either thin and elastic or thicker. Popular meat fillings include ground pork, ground beef, ground chicken, shrimp, and even fish. Popular mixtures include pork with Chinese cabbage, pork with garlic chives, pork and shrimp with vegetables, pork with spring onion, garlic chives with scrambled eggs. Filling mixtures vary depending on personal tastes and region. Jiaozi are usually boiled or steamed and continues to be a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year's Eve, the evening before Chinese New Year, and special family reunions. Extended family members may gather together to make dumplings, and it is also eaten for farewell to family members or friends. In Northern China, dumplings are commonly eaten with a dipping sauce made of vinegar and chili oil or paste, and occasionally with some soy sauce added in.
If dumplings are laid flatly on a pan, first steamed with a lid on and with a thin layer of water, then fried in oil after the water has been evaporated, they are called guotie (鍋貼/锅贴, sometimes called "potstickers"), as the Maillard reaction occurring on the bottom of the dumplings makes the skin crispy and brown. The same dumplings are called jiaozi if they are just steamed.
The wonton (雲呑/餛飩) is another kind of dumpling. It is typically boiled in a light broth or soup and made with a meatier filling. The skin wrapping for wontons is different—thinner and less elastic—than that used for jiaozi. Wontons are more popular in Southern China (Shanghai, Guangdong, Hong Kong etc.) whereas in Northern China, jiaozi are more popular. Jiaozi, wonton and potstickers are all wrapped differently.
Another type of Chinese dumpling is made with glutinous rice. Usually, the glutinous rice dumplings 粽子 zongzi are triangle or cone shaped, can be filled with red bean paste, Chinese dates or cured meat depending on region. Glutinous rice dumplings are traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival. Other types of dumplings would be soup dumplings, commonly referred to as "小籠包/小笼包“ xiaolongbao.
Chinese cuisine includes sweet dumplings. Tangyuan are smaller dumplings made with glutinous rice flour and filled with sweet sesame, peanut, red bean paste. Tangyuan may also be served without a filling. Tangyuan are eaten on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, or the Lantern Festival.
See also: dim sum 點心 for descriptions of several other kinds of dumplings such as har kao, siew mai, pork bun and crystal dumplings.
In Nepal, steamed dumplings known as momo (or momo-cha) is a popular snack which is often eaten as meal as well. It is similar to the Chinese jiaozi or the Central Asian manti. The dish is native to Tibet and was brought to Nepal by the Newar traders of Kathmandu who were trading goods in Tibet before 1930's. Nepalese momo is different from Tibet momo. Many different fillings, both meat-based and vegetarian are common. Currently Kathmandu Valley is a popular destination for momo, as it is one of the most desired fast food there. Along with time Kathmandu has developed its own essence for this food.
There are different varieties of momos, such as fried and steamed momo. Momo are usually served with a dipping sauce normally consisting of tomatoes as the base ingredient, from which numerous variations can be made. Momo soup is a dish that has steamed momo immersed in a meat broth. Momo that are pan fried after steaming first are known as kothey momo in Nepal. Momo can also be prepared by directly deep frying without steaming first. Steamed momo served in hot sauce is called C-Momo in Nepal. These are some of the most common items served in Nepalese restaurants.
Subcontinental cuisine features several dishes which could be characterised as dumplings:
Indonesian fish dumplings served in peanut sauce is called Siomay. Other types of dumplings are called Pangsit (wonton), steamed, boiled, or fried, and often is used as complement of bakmi ayam or chicken noodle. Indonesian dumplings were influenced and brought by Chinese immigrants to Indonesia.
Manti (also manty or mantu) is a steamed dumpling in Kazakh cuisine. It contains a mixture of ground lamb (or beef) spiced with black pepper, enclosed in a dough wrapper. Manti are cooked in a multi-level steamer and served topped with butter, yogurt, sour cream, or onion sauce. These dumplings are popular throughout Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Korean dumplings are called "mandu" (만두). They are typically filled with a mixture of ingredients, including ground pork, kimchi, vegetables, cellophane noodles, but there are very many variations. Mandu can be steamed, fried, or boiled. The dumplings can also be used to make a soup called mandu guk (soup)(만두국).
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