Around the World in Dumplings

Dumplings are our all- time favourite comfort food – do not underestimate its small portion for its rich flavours and hearty fillings do pack a punch. Made of small pieces of dough with a either savoury or sweet fillings, dumplings can be consumed alone, as part of a dish or in soups and stews and can be steamed, fried, boiled and simmered. Let us take a look at what some countries around the world regard as dumplings.

Momo (Tibet)

One of the most Tibetan dishes that looks akin to the Japanese gyozas or Chinese jiaozi, momos can be steamed or fried and usually served with a spicy tomato-based dip or in soups. Momos are stuffed with a variety of ground meat like yak and beef, and vegetables like cabbage, mushroom, potato and cheese.

Kroppkakor (Sweden)

Made of potatoes, wheat flour and salt, these mashed potato dumplings are typically stuffed with minced pork and onion, and consumed in the southern regions of Sweden. Kroppkakor is boiled and usually eaten with butter, sour cream and lingonberry to add another dimension of richness and sweetness to the overall palette.

Coxinha (Brazil)

Translating to ‘little thigh’, coxinha was originally made of chicken thigh in the past. As a Brazilian snack, this deep-fried dish consists of shredded spiced chicken meat, vegetables, tomato sauce and cheese covered in wheat flour and mashed potato dough, shaped to resemble a chicken leg. Coxinhas can also be filled with a plethora of vegetables for the vegetarians out there.

Souskluitjies (South Africa)

As a sweet dumpling dish in South Africa, souskluitjies (pronounced sews-klay-keys) translates to sauce dumplings. Think piping hot cinnamon dumplings with a custard-like texture coupled with the rich flavours of butter and sugar.

This dish became popular during the depression as the ingredients can be easily obtained and the recipe could be altered to suit the individual’s preference of including eggs, or the option to cook the dumplings in eggs or water.

Ovocné Knedlíky (Czech Republic)

These rich fruit dumplings from the Czech Republic have a sweet, tangy flavour. Made of milk, butter, flour, eggs and cheese, the dough is then filled with whole fruits like plums, peaches, apricots and cherries, and then boiled; it’s served generously topped with melted butter and sugar. Ovocné Knedlíky is one the staple desserts in many Czech households.

Pierogi (Eastern Europe)

With Eastern European origins, pierogi is made by wrapping pieces of unleavened dough with a sweet or savoury filling and subsequently boiled in water. The diverse nature of the dumpling allows it to be consumed as an appetiser, main dish or a dessert.

As a national dish in Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia, the dumplings are ingrained in their cultures and widely consumed in several festivals. Pierogi is commonly filled with potatoes, vegetables, ground meat, sauerkraut, cheese and fruits and served with melted butter, sour cream and fried onion. For its dessert version, sweetened cheese, jam or fresh fruits like cherries, berries, peaches, plums and apples would do the trick.

Empanada (Spain, Latin America)

With Spanish origins, empanadas are stuffed bread or pastry made by folding the dough over fillings and subsequently baked or fried. Savoury ones are commonly stuffed with potatoes, eggs, cheese, meat and vegetables, while sweet ones are made with sugar cane in Venezuela, chocolate, sugar, cinnamon and nuts in Italy, and dry fruits like coconut, raisins and sugar in Asian countries like the Philippines, India and Indonesia. Interestingly, there are many dumplings around the world that bear resemblance to the empanada, including curry puff, samosa and strudel.

By Kirstin Sow; read the print version in the Food Issue here