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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 sweet foods. 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 spicy. They can be eaten by themselves, in soups or stews, with gravy. While some dumplings resemble solid, water boiled doughs, such as gnocchi, others such as wontons resemble meatballs with a thin dough covering.


Regional varieties of dumpling

African cuisine

Fufu fit the definition of a dumpling in that they are starchy balls of dough that are steamed. Fufu are staples in the diet of many regions of Africa, although they may be known by several other names. The fufu originated in Ghana, where it is often eaten in soups, much like the matzo ball, or with a vegetable or meat stew. An example of the variation of fufu is the banku and kenkey, dumplings formed from fermented] cornmeal dough. Banku are boiled while kenkey are partly boiled then finished by steaming in banana leaves [1].

Souskluitjies are dumplings found in South Africa [2]. 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 [3] or a custard sauce [4].

South Africa has another kind of dumpling known as melkkos. These dumplings are formed by mixing milk with 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 [5].[4]

European cuisine

British and Irish cuisine

Savoury dumplings made from balls of dough are part of traditional British and Irish cuisine. 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 black 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 may have cheese pressed into its centre.

The Norfolk dumpling is not made with fat, but from flour and a raising agent [6]. 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 [7].

These sourdough dumplings, when sweetened and made with dried fruit and spices, can be boiled in water to make a dessert. In Scotland, this is called a "clootie dumpling", after the cloth in which the dumpling is traditionally wrapped before boiling [8].

Italian cuisine

Gnocchi with chicken essence, pancetta and fresh Périgord truffle

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 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 [9].

Scandinavian cuisine

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 meat, such as bacon, in the middle. In some areas it is common to serve the dumplings with syrup [Citation needed].

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 [10]. In southern Sweden, 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 [11]. 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 used. Flour dumplings for use in soup are called klimp [12].

Central European cuisine

Germany, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia boast a large variety of dumplings, both sweet and [[savory (taste)]|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 [13]. Liver dumplings are frequent additions to soup [14] [15]. Thüringer klöße are made from raw or boiled potatoes, or a mixture of both, and are often filled with croutons [16]. 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 serviettenknödel dumplings [17].

Maultaschen are a Swabian (Baden-Württemberg) specialty food, consisting of an outer layer of pasta dough with a filling traditionally made of minced meat, spinach, breadcrumbs and onions and flavored with various spices. They are similar in appearance to Italian ravioli, but maultaschen are usually larger, each maultasche being about 8–12 cm (3-5 inches) across [18].

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 [19]. 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 breadcrumbs. Shlishkes are small boiled potato dumplings made from the same potato dough as the sweet plum dumplings, also rolled in hot buttered bread crumbs [20].

In Czech cuisine, dumplings are called knedlíky and in Slovakia they are called knedličky. These can be either houskové (bread) or bramborové (potato) dumplings. These dumplings, together with pork and sauerkraut, are part of the Czech national dish, Vepřo knedlo zelo [21].

Bryndzové halušky, considered the Slovak national dish, are small potato dumplings without a filling, served with salty sheep's cheese on top [22]. The same dumplings are also used to create a similar dish, strapačky [23]. Also available are their related stuffed version called pirohy [24], usually filled with bryndza, quark cheese, potatoes, onions, cabbage, mushrooms, or meat.

Eastern European cuisine

Pierogi of Poland, varenyky of Ukraine and Belarus, and pelmeni of Russia are ravioli-like crescent shaped dumplings filled with savoury or sweet fillings. They are usually boiled, and then sometimes fried before serving. They are often served with sour cream.

"Little ears", called uszka in Poland [25], 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 borscht or clear soup. In Romania, "little ears" (Romanian: urechiuşe) are also served in dumpling soup (supă de găluşte) [26].

Lithuanian dough dumplings are called koldūnai and virtiniai [27]. 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) [28]. Fish pelmeni are also known [29].

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 [30].

Middle Eastern cuisine

Armenian manti served with sour cream

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 [31]. Dushbara is an Azeri soup with tiny lamb-filled dumplings [32]. Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) are Georgian dumpling usually filled with spiced meat [33].

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 yoghurt and chopped garlic [34].

Cuisine of the United States

Chicken and dumplings

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 [35]. Dumplings are often used as part of regionally popular "burgoo" (stew) [36].

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 flavorings for apple dumplings include brown sugar, caramel, or cinnamon sauces.

Dumplings can be made with eggs,milk, baking powder or 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 with tortillas and fillings. Popular varieties of Southern dumplings include chicken dumplings, turkey dumplings, strawberry dumplings, apple dumplings, ham dumplings, and butter bean dumplings.

In the Allegheny Mountains of central Pennsylvania, pot pie is rolled dough made from flour and broth (usually ham), cut into squares, and boiled with the meat in the broth, usually with potatoes.

Central and South American cuisine

Chilean cuisine

In Chile, there are pantrucas, a type of flat, elongated and irregular dumplings, whose dough is sometimes flavoured with fresh parsley. Pantrucas are served in a soup [37].

Peruvian cuisine

In Peru, there are a number of dishes that may be classified as dumplings. 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 (beef, pork or chicken), onions and garlic. They are seasoned with cumin, aji, raisins, peanuts, olives and sliced or chopped hard boiled eggs. After stuffing a ball is formed, rolled in 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 bell peppers. The same dish may also be made with seafood [38].

Asian cuisine

Chinese cuisine

Jiaozi (Simplified Chinese: 饺子; Traditional Chinese: 餃子; Pinyin (Mandarin): jiǎo zi; Cantonese: gaau2 zi2) are common Chinese dumplings which generally consists of minced meat and finely chopped vegetables wrapped in a thin and elastic piece of dough skin. Popular meat fillings include ground pork, ground beef, ground chicken, shrimp, and 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. Jiaozi are usually boiled or steamed and remains a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year's Eve and special family reunions. In China, dumplings are commonly eaten with a dipping sauce made of vinegar and chilli oil or paste, often with some soy sauce [39].

Steamed then fried jiaozi are called guotie (Simp.: 锅贴; Trad: 鍋貼 ; Pinyin: guō tiē; Cantonese: wo1 tip3) or, in American English, potstickers [40] after their crispy skin on the bottom.

Wontons (Simp: 馄饨; Trad: 餛飩; Pinyin: hún tún; Cantonese: wan4 tan1) are another kind of dumpling. They are typically boiled in a light broth or soup [41].

Chinese cuisine includes sweet dumplings. Tangyuan are smaller dumplings made with glutinous rice flour and filled with sesame seed, peanut, or red bean paste. Tangyuan may also be served without a filling [42].

Nepalese cuisine

Momos in Nepal

In Nepal, steamed dumplings known as momo (or momo-cha) are a popular snack. They are similar to the Chinese jiaozi or the Central Asian manti. The dish is native to Tibet [43], 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 [44].

Indian cuisine

Indian cuisine features several dishes which could be characterised as dumplings:

  • Gujhia is a sweet dumpling made with wheat flour, stuffed with khoya (dried milk [45].
  • Fara is made of wheat flour with a stuffing of lentils [46].
  • Karanji or kajjikayi are fried sweet dumplings made of wheat flour and stuffed with dry or moist coconut [47].
  • Pitha' are stuffed savouries either cooked by steam or deep frying. A wide range of pithas are available in eastern and north eastern India [48].
  • Another dumpling popular in Western India and South India is the modak or modhaka or modagam" or Sugiyan, where the filling is made of fresh coconut and jaggery or sugar while the covering is steamed rice dough. It is eaten hot with ghee [49].
  • Kozhakkattai or kadabu is another South Indian dish that can be sweet, salty or spicy. The outer shell is always steamed sticky rice dough. In the sweet version, a form of sweet filling made with coconuts, boiled lentils and jaggery is used, whereas in the salty version, a mixture of steamed cracked lentils, chillies and some mild spices is used [50].
  • Samosa is another popular savoury snack eaten in the Indian subcontinent and in the UK. It is a fried dumpling usually stuffed with mince, vegetables (mainly potatoes) and various spices. Vegetarian variants of samosas are also popular and are sold at most eateries or roadside stalls throughout the country [51].

Indonesian cuisine

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 [52].

Japanese cuisine

Takoyaki (Japanese: たこ焼き) is one of the common dumplings which are round shaped, made from flour, egg and water, flavoured with a piece of octopus (tako, たこ) and other ingredients. They are often garnished with aonori (shredded dried seaweed) [53].

Gyōza (ギョーザ/餃子) is the Japanese version of the Chinese jiaozi [54].

Korean cuisine

Korean dumplings are called mandu (Korean: 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 [55]. The dumplings can also be used to make a soup called mandu guk [56]


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