Around the world, people eat dumplings in some shape or form — ravioli in Italy, wontons in China, empanadas in Argentina, and pupusas in El Salvador are just a few examples.
Using a broad definition, dumplings are dough wrapped around a filling. Let’s take a quick world tour of dumpling cuisine.
Nepal and Tibet: Available at restaurants and street corners, meat-filled or vegetarian momos are the fast food of the Himalayas. Who wouldn’t love a quick momo after walking several miles to work or school along steep mountain trails?
Norway: Norwegians enjoy a good dumpling, but don’t have a universal name for it due to different dialects. Pick one (choices include: potetball, klubb, kløbb, kumperdøse, ruta, raskekako, klotremat, and krumm) and enjoy eating this potato dumpling with pork in the middle. Perhaps combine the saltiness with sweet by putting a little syrup on top.
India: Go to India and you’ll see a chaat pushcart on every street. Chaat vary by region (and maybe even by block), but are essentially wheat flour exteriors with spicy water in the middle. When you eat one, it makes you forget the heat outside due to the fireworks going off in your mouth. In a restaurant, chaat has solid fillings such as chick peas or potatoes and top-pings such as yogurt or chutney.
Jewish Culture: It’s all about the matzah ball (kneydl in Yiddish) made from ground matzo (unleavened bread). Usually, the matzah ball is in a broth that is flavored with spices and chicken fat. Although popular during Passover and on Shabbat, matzah ball soup is just a good all-around comfort food on a cold winter day and has become a part of American culture. “Seinfeld” sitcom aficionados even have their own definition for it. Not to mention the fact that there is a world record for matzah ball consumption — you can be the record holder if you can eat more than 78 matzah balls in eight minutes.
Eastern Europe: Here the pierogi is the culinary king and its popularity has spread across borders and oceans. Pierogis are boiled or baked with unleavened dough and have a variety of fillings, from cabbage to cheese to mushrooms. They can also be sweet and filled with fruit. Outside of Eastern Europe, the United States and Canada have the largest “pierogi market” with national food chains serving varietals of the dumpling on their menus.
So, wherever your travels may take you, you may eat a dumpling or two, or five. Enjoy!