Kuldunai (Lithuanian Meat Dumplings) a la Azuolas!


dumplings

What has a cold car wash in St Albans got to do with these delicious morsels? I met Azuolas when I went to get my car cleaned last winter. During the quiet moments, he would nip behind the old wooden counter outside the open air car wash and turn on a rickety old double burner gas stove. When the pot of stock on the ring was bubbling, Azuolas took out an orange tupperware storage box which looked like it belonged in another decade. Inside were several of what looked like Chinese dumplings or Polish pierogi.

When I commented to Azuolas that I liked the look of his Pierogi, he went mental. “They’re not Polish,” he stormed. “These are my wife’s Kuldunai. They are true Lithuanian.” Sheepishly, I apologised for my oversight and asked whether they were similar in taste – as I loved Polish food. Azuolas asked me to taste one and see whether I could tell the difference.

When I did eventually slide a portion of pure deliciousness down my neck, I almost bullied him for the recipe. Although I loved Polish food, these were so much better  than pierogi, more like Chinese pot stickers. Amazingly, he relented – and so I bring to you a taste of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital city and birthplace of Jadvyga, Azuolas’s wife from whose grandmother this recipe originated. I have one very basic word so overused in food blogs I am loathed to pen it here, but I will. Enjoy!

What you’ll need for the dumplings…

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 cups flour

What you’ll need for the filling

  • 1½ lb finely minced beef
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives

How to make it

The filling

Beat the eggs well then mix with the salt, pepper, chopped onion, chives and ground beef. The filling should have a consistent smooth texture. The more evenly-sized the pieces of onion and meat are the better.

The dough

Beat the eggs thoroughly adding the flour, salt and water to make a soft, workable dough. Divide into three parts. Roll out each portion about 3mm thick and cut into circles with a large glass about 8cms in diameter. Fill each dough circle with a tablespoon of the filling. Wet the edges and seal by twisting over the ends.

The dumplings

Bring one litre of salted water to a boil and drop in the dumplings gently. The dumplings are cooked when they float to the top. Transfer to a hit frying pan for a minute and cook in butter until lightly tinged with brown. Serve hot with friend bacon lardons or, being really different and this blog is all about alternative eating, try them with a good Ragu or Bolognese sauce. They are delicious!

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