Although Knoedel (Engl. "dumplings") are part of menus all over the world, they still remain a typical example of the Austrian, Bavarian, and Czech cuisine, especially in their characteristically round form. They are served as a sweet or as a savory dish (e.g. scrambled with eggs) or as a side dish with meat.
Actually, I have never met anyone who despises dumplings on principle. In all their different ways of preparation, dumplings are willingly eaten by children and adults alike. Just as there are no age restrictions for eating dumplings, in these days of health consciousness there are no dietary restrictions either. There are also no social barriers to eating dumplings. One may find dumplings both on the table of a rural inn and on the menu of an haute cuisine restaurant. It seems that dumplings are a dish for everyone.
I first noticed the popularity of dumplings during my studies in the United States. Once in a month we had a so-called “International Evening”. Students from abroad were enlisted to prepare typical dishes from their home countries. I fixed plum dumplings for our first meeting and everybody was so keen on them that I was forced to make them over and over again. Two years later, pretty much the same thing happened to me in Switzerland, where I was working during the summer. Thinking that Switzerland had many things in common with its Alpine neighbor, I was surprised to learn that dumplings as we prepare them in Austria were unknown to the Swiss I worked with.
The history of the Knoedel is a very old one. Archaeological findings of food that were identified as some kind of dumplings have been dated back to the year 3600 BC. These findings were lumps of bruised grain, water, and flour, probably formed and compressed by hand, though they could have also been some kind of bread. Scientists assume that these balls were dried and kept as non-perishable provisions for longer journeys.
The etymology of the word “Knoedel” starts in the Czech language with the word “knedlik”. The English word “dumpling” first emerged around 1600.
Methods of preparation
Knoedel serve as main or side dishes, as desserts and also as accompaniments to soups. The methods of preparation are much more varied than those of other dishes. There are sweet or savoury, filled or unfilled dumplings - dumplings can also be prepared as casseroles. What all dumplings have in common though is that they are balls of dough and must be boiled in water.
The most popular and also most traditional Knoedel dish in Austria is probably a sweet dumpling such as Zwetschgenknoedel (plum dumplings) or Marillenknödel (apricot dumplings). It is made of curd cheese dough and filled with either plums or apricots. Some people have experimented with fillings for dumplings and come up with delicious creations such as the Erdbeerknoedel (Strawberry dumplings) and Nougatknoedel (filled with nougat). In most cases, people prepare curd cheese dumplings with fruit or any kind of sauce made from fruit or chocolate.
The Semmelknoedel is one of Austria's most favourite side dishes. It goes well with meat, especially with pork roast. A variation is the Serviettenknödel, which is made using the same ingredients but has a different form. The Grießknoedel, made of semolina, is usually served in soups (like noodles would be).
Wurstknoedel and Grammelknoedel are dumplings served as main dishes. They are made of potato dough and filled with chopped sausage (mixed with onions and herbs) and greaves respectively. This dish is often served with sauerkraut.
Rather than being filled with meat, the dough for Fleischknoedel (meat dumplings) is made using meat (e.g. liver in Leberknoedel). Like the Grießknoedel, Fleishknoedel are most often served in a broth of some kind.
Basic recipe: Semmelknoedel
|Time||prep: 20 min, cooking: 20 min|
- 10 white bread rolls
- 2 onions
- about 3 cups milk
- 4 eggs
- about 7 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- a pinch of white pepper
- 1 bunch of parsley
- cut the rolls into small cubes
- chop the onions
- heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a pan and sauté the onions until they are glassy
- mix the bread cubes with the onions
- mix the eggs with the milk and pour it over the bread and the onions
- wash and chop the parsley
- mix the parsley and the flour with the dough
- form balls of the dough (in the size of tennis balls)
- Boil the Knoedel in salted water. After about two minutes turn the temperature down to a lower setting and let them boil for another 10 to 15 minutes.