Dumplings Around the World – An Eating and Cooking Project

Dumplings Around the World - Everybody's comfort food.

Dumplings. I love them. My grandmother made them and taught my mother. My mother made them, although not very often, and she taught me. It’s one of those down-home foods that bring back memories of a steamy kitchen, messy cooking, lots of laughter and lots of love.

Jump to Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

Czech bacon dumplings
Czech bacon dumplings from Telc.

Did you know that every culture has some form of dumpling? They do, and I’m on a mission to seek them out, eat them, learn to cook them, and share them with you. Thus my Dumplings Around the World project was born.

Japanese gyoza, fried and steamed.
Japanese gyoza, fried and steamed.

What is a dumpling?

The best definition that is all inclusive of all world dumplings is from Merriam Webster, and it shares two: 1. a small lump of dough that is boiled or steamed; 2. a piece of food that is wrapped in dough and cooked. These definitions do not, in any way, cover the variety, the taste, or the reason that these bits of dough are still one of the most popular foods found around the world today. Why?

Grandma Helen Dewey Chesebrough
Grandma Helen Dewey Chesebrough

Dumplings are about family, about stories, about sitting around the table on a cold, crisp day and eating comfort food. I can remember my grandmother making these for us every time we came to visit. She made my favorite dish: chicken and dumplings.

Not much to look at, and really not all that hard to make, they aren’t the most flavorful of foods. My grandmother’s, and in turn my mother’s and my, dumplings are simply a biscuit dropped into the boiling chicken broth after we’ve boiled the chicken. Sure, you can fancy it up with herbs, but why? It really doesn’t need it.

American chicken and dumplings
American chicken and dumplings just like Grandma used to make.

My Dumpling Memories

I can pinpoint the exact day when I really started to have an appreciation for this hearty meal. I as about ten years old, and we were visiting my grandmother as we did most summers. We were going to have Chicken and Dumplings for dinner, but we had to get a good, fatty hen first. My mother packed me off to my uncle’s mother-in-law’s house.

We called her Grandma Cantele, and she was straight from Italy. She had a few chickens, and we went to her house where we plucked the chickens for dinner. I never knew how much work was involved in de-feathering a chicken. I have to tell you, it made the dinner that night that much more special to me.

Since I started collecting information on my dumpling project, I’ve eaten them in many countries, countless varieties of them from Turkey to Japan. I’ve taken cooking classes in many of these countries as well. I’m collecting the history, stories from the people who share them with me, photos, and of course the recipes.

Woman preparing manti, Turkish dumplings.
Woman preparing manti, Turkish dumplings.

Dumplings We’ve Tried and Loved

Dumpling Photos 

Here are a few dumplings that we’ve had and will be sharing more in depth with you in the near future.  Can you guess which countries they are from?

Czech bread dumplings
Czech bread dumplings in traditional beef with cream sauce.
Slovak steamed dumpling with blueberry
Slovak steamed dumpling with blueberry, that we ate in Bratislava.
Traditional beef with Yorkshire pudding, which is a dumpling.
Traditional beef with Yorkshire pudding, which is a dumpling.
Khinkali, Georgian dumplings
A variety of Khinkali, Georgian dumplings.
Traditional Czech meal, complete with dumplings.
Traditional Czech meal, complete with dumplings. Chicken, red cabbage, and bread dumplings.
Germknödel, German dumpling
A typical Bavarian dessert, Germknödel usually contains plums.
Austrian steamed sweet dumplings with berries and vanilla sauce.
Austrian steamed sweet dumplings with berries and vanilla sauce.

Traditional American chicken and dumplings.
Yield: 6 servings

Traditional New England Chicken and Dumplings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This chicken and dumplings recipe has been handed down from mother to daughter for as long as our family has been in America.

Ingredients

  • 1stewing chickens (old fatty hens are best)
  • celery, 1 stalk sliced
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk

Instructions

  1. First, cook the chicken by boiling the chicken, celery, and onions together with some salt for 45 minutes to one hour.
  2. Make the dumpling dough, by combining flour, baking powder, shortening, milk, and some salt. Do not mix more than for combination purposes. The dough should be rough.
  3. For space, I take out the chickens and keep them warm in the oven while cooking my dumplings, but traditionally the dumplings were cooking with the chicken still in the water.
  4. Plop spoonfuls of dough in boiling water. I find that larger dumplings have a more biscuit-y substance. Smaller dumplings can get quite dense.
  5. Cover and cook ten minutes, then take the cover off and cook an additional ten minutes.
  6. Serve chicken and dumplings immediately.

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14 thoughts on “Dumplings Around the World – An Eating and Cooking Project”

  1. I too love dumplings! They are tasty and easy to integrate in many dishes. But, like you, dumplings are about family – as a coincidence my grandmother used to make them as well! Lovely project!

  2. I love this and the whole idea of crossing cultures with conceptually similar foods. American dumplings are soooo hearty, like stick to your ribs more than matzo hearty. Can’t wait to catch a few recipes!

  3. Rachael@safari254

    I have actually never had dumplings but now you’re making me want to try some. I think I’ll try make some and hope that they do not backfire.

  4. I love this project! Your memories come alive in your writing. And, indeed, dumplings are delicious in all their many forms!

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