Dumpling is a universal love language that comes in different shapes, sizes, fillings, cooking techniques and generally everyone enjoys it as a meal or a snack. I grew up eating mo:mo – Himalayan dumplings that is popular in Nepal/Tibet but now I am really curious about dumplings from different parts of the world. I added Dumplings From Around the World to my Culinary Wishlist for 2020 and I have finally tackled 10 different ones. In my opinion, some version of dough wrapped around savory or a sweet filling and cooked is a dumpling and you’d be surprised to find that every country/culture has a dumpling. I picked 10 different dumplings from around the world as they were all new to me and sounded really delicious and interesting. I will share the recipe I used along with some tips/ things I learned along the way. Please let me know in the comment below what is your favorite dumpling? or, what are some other delicious dumplings I should try next.
Culurgoines – Sardania
I learned about culurgoines from Poh from Master Chef Australia. She made these really intricate looking culurgiones, traditional dish of Ogliastra, a region in Sardinia and I knew I had to have it. The dough is similar to a pasta dough, using a combination of semolina, all-purpose four, and eggs. For the filling, I used potato, pecorino cheese, egg, olive oil, mint, salt, pepper and butter and served it with brown butter sauce. I did come across recipes that used tomato sauce and ricotta cheese in the filling, which are shared below.
If this is your first time wrapping/folding a dough, this fold might be little tricky but as long as fillings are sealed inside, don’t fuss too much about the perfect shape. This rule generally applies to dumplings in general.
https://sortedfood.com/recipe/14227 (culurgiones recipe)
https://www.greatitalianchefs.com/recipes/culurgiones-recipe (culurgiones recipe)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjGcUI4CS0E (little history and techniques to pleat culurgiones)
Gyoza – Japan
Lacy Vegetable Gyoza
Gyoza is a popular pan-fried dumplings from Japan which uses both pan-frying and steaming to create that crispy, golden bottom and keep dumplings juicy on the inside. Typically, ground pork and cabbage along with soy, sesame, and aromatics are used in the filling but I opted to use extra firm tofu and vegetables in my gyoza (recipe below) . Gyoza wrappers are thin compared to a typical store-bought ‘dumpling wrappers’ but you can use them interchangeably if you have to or you can make them at home.
For my gyoza, I tried this new technique called “lacy or crispy skirt” which essentially creates an extra crispy layer as it cooks. Instead of steaming dumplings in water, you simmer them in a cornstarch and flour slurry that creates a crunchy crust as the water evaporates and the dumplings brown as they cook.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFv-hJW-BqE (vegan gyoza recipe I used)
https://www.justonecookbook.com/gyoza/ (traditional gyoza recipe)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7H2KVlGTW4 (gyoza with a crispy lace)
The history of empanadas are not very clear but these handheld pastries are very popular in many parts of the world, including South America, the Caribbean and the Philippines. The name comes from the Spanish verb ‘empanar’, which means to wrap in bread. Essentially, flaky pastries are stuffed with sweet or savory filling such as beef, chicken, ham and cheese, potatoes, seafood or simply stuff empanadas with seasonally/regionally available ingredients then baked or fried to golden perfection.
I made vegan empanadas with different sauteed vegetables seasoned with oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
Iskus Mo:Mo – Nepal (Eastern)
Mo:mo means dumplings in Nepali and here is my go-to chicken mo:mo recipe. Until recently I didn’t know you could make vegetarian dumplings with chayote, a regional specialty from the Eastern part of Nepal. Chayote (iskus) is a squash but looks more like a gourd with a crispy flesh. You can find them at most grocery stores if you look carefully. Chayote is really delicious when sauteed, in stir-fry, and in soups too.
The key with iskus mo:mo is to first grate chayote and sprinkle little salt to release the water. Make sure to squeeze out all the water from grated chayote then mix it with onion, green onions, cilantro, salt, pepper, and ghee. I used The Gundruk as my resource but I plan to share a full recipe here in the near future. Since iskus ko mo:mo (chayote dumplings) are so simple, make sure to serve it with bold and flavorful tomato achar.
Har Gao – China
Shrimp Har Gao
Har gao is a Cantonese dumpling known for their delicate, translucent wrapper enveloped around a shrimp filling. It is sometimes referred as shrimp bonnet due to it’s shape and unlike regular flour-based dumplings, hao gar is made with a combination of wheat starch, cornstarch/tapioca, and lard/oil. I was a bit intimidated before making har gao as the dumpling kneading technique is really unique so I suggest you read the recipe carefully and measure your ingredients precisely for best results. I was able to get wheat starch from the Asian grocery store (in the flour/starch section).
Har gao is traditionally served as a part of dim sum – Chinese meal of small plates best enjoyed with tea in the company of family and friends.
Modombi – Botswana
Served over Chicken Stew
Modombi is a steamed yeast-bread dumpling from Botswana that is served alongside a stew. It’s slightly sweet, really fluffy bread that reminded me of tingmo (Tibetan yeast bread). Traditionally, modombi is served with a beef stew but I adapted my chicken and chickpea soup recipe and turned it into a hearty, comforting dish.
Banh Bot Loc – Vietnam
Shrimp Banh Bot Loc
I attempted my 4th banh bat loc, tapioca starch based dumplings from Vietnam last night and I still struggled to get it down correctly. These dumplings are clear and chewy with a glossy finish and garnished with fried shallots and fermented fish sauce. Banh bot loc originated from Huế, the city known as the imperial capital of Vietnam and is known for simple yet refined dishes.
There are actually two versions of banh bot loc. The traditional version in which banana leaves are used to pack the filling is called bánh bôt loc lá and the version without banana leaves is called bánh bôt loc trần. The version I made without banana leaves (bánh bôt loc trần) are hand-shaped and boiled in water while bánh bôt loc lá are steamed and the dough is prepared by spreading it thinly over the leaf and filling is wrapped inside the dough and the leaf. Typically, pork and shrimp is used in the filling but I only used shrimp in my recipe.
The dough is really really tricky and I think that’s where I am struggling the most. My 1st attempt was okayyyyyy, on my 2nd and 3rd attempt, I tried a different technique (similar to bánh bôt loc lá but used parchment paper instead of banana leaves), and the last attempt, I was able to salvage only half the dumplings as my dough was inconsistent when I rolled them so a lot them fell apart while cooking them. Please don’t let my experience discourage you from trying these delicious dumplings.
Daal Pitha – India (Bihar)
Daal (Lentil) Stuffed
Talking about a failed recipe, daal pitha is another one I really struggled with. It is a rice-flour based dumpling very popular in Bihar region of India and often stuffed with sweet or savory fillings then steamed. I used spicy daal (lentil) mixture in my filling, which was super delicious but I couldn’t get the dough to be smooth like in pictures/videos I came across. I used superfine rice flour from the Asian grocery store so I am not sure if the texture of the rice makes any difference but despite giving daal pitha a try twice, they kept on falling apart after steaming. I also noticed that there are different ways to make the dough – using rice flour or making the rice flour by grinding the soaked rice, both are shared below.
Daal pitha is enjoyed as a snack with tomato achar or mint chutney.
Khinkali – Georgia
Khinkali is a Georgian dumpling that looks like soup dumplings, except these are boiled and typically seasoned with onion, garlic, ground cumin, chilli, and fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and dill. Beef, pork or lamb is the preferred meat of choice but I used chicken in my filling along with cilantro, parsley, and dill for seasoning. I noticed some Khinakli dough recipe use egg as an optional ingredient which makes the wrapper soft and rich which is always a bonus! Khinkali is boiled and simply served with a freshly cracked black pepper.
Mantu – Afghanistan
Chicken Mantu with Lentils & Yogurt Sauce
Mantu is a type of dumpling popular in Afghanistan made with beef or lamb mixed with minced onions and spices, then steamed. Mantu is topped with a yogurt-based sauce and/or tomato-based sauce right before serving.
I used the beef recipe below and replaced ground chicken in my mantu. You can make the dumpling dough from scratch or use store bought wonton wrapper if you’d like. I had some green spinach wrapper on hand, so I used that so traditionally it doesn’t look green. For serving, spread some of the yogurt spread on a platter with chopped mint as a base, then a layer of dumplings, topped with yet another layer of yogurt spread, followed by the tomato-based sauce if using.
I hope you enjoyed learning about 10 different dumplings from around the world. This was my first time ever trying a lot of these dumplings on the list except for gyoza, har gao, and empanada so everything I am sharing is based on the information from the internet and my experience in the kitchen using ingredients and tools I have on hand.
I’d love to hear your experience with dumplings and if you have a recipe or tip/technique you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.
If you are into dumplings, you should check these dumplings too: