Dumplings, Dumplings, Dumplings
At some point in human history, we, as a species, collectively created a universally perfect food: the DUMPLING; classified in this article as a starchy dough with any type of filling.
At EatNom, we’ve been exploring unique cuisines and experiences, and we’re excited to share with you just how diverse food can be. It’s almost magical to learn about the vast array of cultures worldwide and witness how their environments and histories influenced the food that they eat.
But with all of these variations, sometimes it’s comforting to know that deep down inside, we’re not that different after all. Wherever we are, humanity has held on tight to the glorious dumpling.
Potstickers? Dumpling. Tortellini? Dumpling. Totinos? Dumpling.
Would you believe me if I told you that Wikipedia tells us that chicken nuggets are dumplings? I don’t know what’s more worrying: that someone came up with this or that they might be right.
Dumplings are such a broad class of dishes that almost every country has their own spin on them.
Don’t believe us? Here are 30 more examples to start you off!
1. Afghanistan - Aushak
Often served during the holidays, aushak is a boiled vegetable dumpling filled with either chives or leeks, often served with a tomato meat sauce and a yogurt sauce. Aushak is a rewarding but time-consuming dish to create. Some recipes that take as long as 3 hours to prepare.
2. Brazil - Coxinhas
Coxinhas are a popular snack in Brazil, typically made with a filling of shredded chicken meat and onions, molded into their distinct teardrop shape, and fried. The shape of Coxinhas intentionally resemble chicken thighs, giving the dumplings their unique appearance.
3. Chile - Milcao
More potato-based than a flour dough, the shape and filling of milcao certainly fit the definition of dumpling. A traditional Chilean dish, milcao is made from mashed potato dough, filled with onions, chicharron, or sausage. Once they take shape, milcao are either baked or fried for a beautiful crust.
4. China - Xiaolongbao
Often called “soup dumplings,” xiaolongbao are just that; steamed dumplings filled with pork and hot soup at its center. But eating these can be tricky if you don’t know how. Carefully pick up one of these fragile dumplings, place them in a spoon, and take a small bite of the skin. Slurp out the soup first, then bite in!
5. Egypt - Qatayef
Qatayef is a dessert usually served during Ramadan. The crescent-shaped dumpling uses a pancake batter filled with creams, nuts, cheeses, or fruits. It’s then deep-fried to give it a nice bite. Once golden brown, dip the qatayef into a hot syrup to finish.
6. France - Croquette
Croquettes, popularized across the world with countless variations, can trace back to the 19th century in France. The core element for all croquettes is fairly distinct: a crisp, deep-fried breading. As for the filling, the choices range from all sorts of meats and fishes to curry.
7. Georgia - Khinkali
You might not recognize khinkali by name, but one look and you’ll be searching for the nearest spot to order and experience it for yourself. These boiled dumplings are filled with minced meat made from lamb, beef, or pork, but the real stars are the meaty juices inside. Some recipes even add broths to get those juices flowing.
8. Germany - Maultasche
Best described as a large ravioli, maultasche is typically served in two ways: simmering in soup or tossed in a onion-butter mix. These dumplings are traditionally filled with meat, spinach, and onions and, according to German legend, were once eaten to spite God during Lent.
9. India - Modak
A favorite of Ganesha, the god of wisdom, modak is a sweet dumpling that plays a significant role in Hinduism. Symbolizing spiritual knowledge, these dumplings are usually filled with coconut and jaggery, a type of cane sugar, and they can be either fried or steamed.
10. Indonesia - Batagor
A Sudanese dish, batagor, are popular street food in Indonesia. The dumplings use tofu or wonton skins and filled with fish, such as wahoo, mackerel, or prawns. Once formed, batagor is deep-fried and served with peanut sauce, sweet soy sauce, and sambal, a chili paste.
11. Iraq - Kubbeh
Kubbeh are deep, red dumplings that are served in a soup. Popular in both Syria and Israel, these Iraqi dumplings are filled with an assortment of ground beef and vegetables. Then, Kubbeh simmer in a beet soup that give the dumplings their unique color.
12. Italy - Ravioli
A dumpling that needs no introduction, ravioli are made from pasta and filled with a wide variety of meats and cheeses. Once the ravioli are boiled, they are served with either red or white sauces. Fun fact: a deep-fried “toasted” ravioli, was originally created in St. Louis, Missouri.
13. Israel - Knish
Technically, the knish isn’t necessarily from Israel. Its significance is easily better tied to New York City, but its role in Jewish cuisine is undeniable. These flaky pastry-esque dumplings are usually filled with mashed potatoes and onions, then baked and fried for a hearty comfort food.
14. Japan - Gyoza
Arguably one of the poster childs for dumplings, gyoza are the Japanese variation of jiaozi, a Chinese dumpling. The recipe was likely adapted by Japanese soldiers returning from China after World War II. Despite their similarities, gyoza has a distinctly more robust garlic flavor than jiaozi.
15. Korea - Mandu
More of a general term than a specific dish, “mandu” describes various dumpling dishes from Korea. A popular variation is tteok mandu guk, a soup dish made with boiled dumplings, rice cakes, dried seaweed, and egg, and traditionally eaten to celebrate the New Year.
16. Latin America - Empanada
Although typically found in Latin American countries, empanadas can also be found in the Philippines. You can stuff these turnovers with meats, cheeses, and vegetables, then bake or fry them for that signature golden-brown crust.
17. Lithuania - Cepelinai
The national dish of Lithuania, cepelinai, derives its name from “zeppelin,” referring to the shape of the dumpling. With a dough made from potatoes, these enormous dumplings are stuffed with ground meat, cottage cheese, or mushrooms and are usually served with a cream sauce and bacon.
18. Mexico - Tamales
With origins that stretch all the way back to the Aztecs, tamales use a corn-based dough called masa, and are filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Wrapped in either corn husks or plantain leaves, the tamales are finally steamed to produce a comforting, soft texture.
19. Mongolia - Buuz
Eaten during Tsagaan Sar, the Lunar New Year, buuz is a steamed dumpling filled with either mutton or beef. Buuz is traditionally prepared ahead of time and left outside to freeze; and when the time comes to eat, these dumplings are usually paired with vodka.
20. Nepal - Momo
A popular Nepali street food, momo have endless varieties of fillings, including all sorts of meats, vegetables, cheeses, and sweets. These dumplings can be either steamed or fried, and they are usually served with a spicy sauce called momo ko achar, a kind of chutney.
21. Philippines - Siopao
With influences from Chinese immigrants, Siopao are steamed buns filled with either pork asado, a sweet braised barbecue pork, or bola bola, a Filipino-style meatball. These soft buns make the perfect snack and can be found from bakeries to street stalls in the Philippines.
22. Poland - Pierogi
Considered one of Poland’s national dishes, pierogi are dumplings found across central and eastern Europe. While most popular variants have potatoes, sauerkraut, and meat, there are dessert pierogi filled with fruits and jam.
23. Russia - Pelmeni
The origins of pelmeni seem muddled, with traces of these dumpling in Siberia, Ural, and even as far as Mongolia. Stuffed with minced meat or vegetables, pelmeni were traditionally frozen as a preserved food, then boiled in either water or meat broths and served with melted butter or sour cream.
24. Sweden - Palt
Palt is a potato dumpling filled with onions and bacon, most commonly served with butter and lingonberry jam. But in northern Sweden and Finland, a variation of this dumpling is blodpalt, made with reindeer blood added to the dough, traditionally made to endure the winters.
25. Thailand - Cho Muang
Cho Muang (chau-moo-ahng)
Known as the Thai flower dumpling, cho muang gets its signature color from a mixture of blue peas and lemon juice. Once considered a snack for royalty, cho muang are filled with seasoned meat and delicately pleated into a flower shape with tweezers, before being steamed.
26. Vietnam - Banh Bao
Banh Bao (ban-bau)
Although visually similar to the Chinese baozi and Filipino siopao, banh bao stands out with its unique fillings, most popularly Chinese sausage, and hard-boiled quail eggs. Start your day with these beautiful bundles of joy for breakfast.
27. United Kingdom - Pasty
Made from a shortcrust pastry, pasties are filled with beef, potatoes, onions, and rutabaga. While the dish was once called a “Cornish pasty,” as of 2011, only pasties made in Cornwall can be labeled as such and require an authentication stamp from the Cornish Pasty Association.
28. United States - Crab Rangoon
Crab Rangoon (krab-rang-goon)
There are lots of choices for dumplings originating in the United States. Pizza rolls, corn dogs, and Hot Pockets, to name a few. But the crab rangoon is an unexpected dish from America. The deep-fried wonton, filled with cream cheese and crab, originates from Trader Vic’s in 1950’s San Francisco.
29. Venezuela - Hallaca
Believed to have been created by slaves during the colonization of Venezuela, Hallaca is traditionally served during Christmas celebrations. Made from corn dough stuffed with stewed meats, raisins, and olives, Hallacas are wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled.
30. World Wide - Samosa
With a history that reaches back to the 10th century, the samosa is easily one of the most recognizable forms of the dumpling. The samosa has reached across the globe, finding variations in India, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa. The world absolutely loves a good samosa.
Our dumpling journey around the world is coming to an end, and hopefully, at least one new dumpling has caught your eye. If this is your first step into trying a new cuisine? All the power to you. Get out there and stuff yourself with dumplings.
And the question remains: is a chicken nugget a dumpling? It’s certainly debatable.
But I raise you this: is a Pop-Tart a dumpling?