Is there anything better than a dumpling? It’s one of those foods that has managed to pop up in cultures all over the world—each different based on regional cuisines, but all wonderfully doughy. Whether baked or boiled, stuffed with a filling or left simple and fluffy, cultures have been turning out this tasty dish for centuries. Here, a culinary cheat sheet on how to order (and pronounce) eight great dumplings from across the globe.
While most commonly associated with Polish cuisine, pinning the pierogi to one country of origin is a difficult task. It is possible they came from Central Asia, but popular fillings came to reflect Eastern European staples: cabbage and potato reign supreme.
A version of these crispy pastries was introduced to the subcontinent by Middle Eastern traders in the 10th century and was reportedly favored among royals and nobles for centuries.
\ mät-sə ˈbȯl\
A Middle Eastern treat, fluffiness is everything when it comes to these Jewish soup dumplings but the best cooking method is widely debated among cooks. These dumplings are traditional fare during Passover, as they contain Matza meal, but are popular year round.
Legend has it this popular Chinese dish was invented when an Imperial chef accidentally burnt a batch of dumplings on only one side and —luckily!—the emperor loved the chewiness of the browned bottoms.
\ˈsō ˈklā ˈkēs\
This comforting South African dessert, literally “sauce dumplings,” arrived in the country with Dutch or German traders and rose in popularity during the Great Depression due to its simple ingredients and flexible recipe.
A Central European specialty, these tasty egg noodles originated in Schwaben, a region notorious for its hearty and heavily-sauced dishes. The name means “little sparrow” in High German, which refers to their round and dainty shape.
Literally meaning, “wrapped in bread” in Spanish, the origins of these savory filled pastries date back to medieval Iberia. Today, they’re a popular snack throughout Latin America.
This Tuscan, gnocchi-style pasta dumpling is typically eaten as primi piatto, or first course. The name translates to “poorly formed” and suits the rough-hewn shapes perfectly. Traditionally made with semolina, potato varieties are also popular today.
Do you have a favorite dumpling? What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten while traveling? Tell us in the comments below.