Pelmeni are to Russians what Ravioli are to Italians. A filling, delicious and staple part of the diet. A quick look at the tasty history of pelmeni reveals that these meat filled Russian dumplings are adaptations of the Chines potsticker. Its distinct rounded ear shape is what also sets it apart from Ukraine’s close cousin vareniki or pierogies as they are more commonly known in Eastern Europe.
The name pelmeni comes from the original dish prepared by the indigenous people from the Ural Mountains called Komi. They named the dumplings “pelnyan” which meant ‘little bread ear’ in their native tongue. Today’s pelmeni bear little resemblance to the dish prepared by our ancestors.
Readily available at most ethnic stores and supermarkets pelmeni’s authentic flavor has been lost in the mainstream shuffle. Traditional pelmeni were prepared with dough made of whole wheat and soured over a period of days by fresh whey, and stuffed with meat of wild game. Cooked slowly on an open fire, this dish was hearty, especially during the cold winters. The dumplings could also be prepared for future meals and kept frozen thanks to the winter snow.
Pelmeni are actually the epitome of rustic slow cooking, and enjoying the flavors and textures of seasonal produce. Served with fresh sour cream or yogurt, pelmeni are the essence of Russian soul food.
Pelmeni parties are popping up all over Russia and the world as college students and young professionals travel abroad. While cooking usually means boiling packaged dumplings for 5 minutes, making pelmeni is an entirely different story.
Cooking usually means boiling for about 5 minutes, either in water or clear broth – in which it can later be served. Some recipes suggest frying the pelmeni after cooking until they turn golden brown. Then, once ready, the dumplings are served up with a dollop of sour cream, or sometimes butter, mustard or horseradish.
Our signature pelmeni recipe is below for your cooking pleasure! Schedule a cooking evening with your partner or friends and enjoy home-made pelmeni Enjoy an evening of pelmeni making with your friends over a glass of wine.