Himalayan Dumplings for a Potluck

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Last night as I was just deciding to get into the kitchen and make ourselves some dinner, I got a text from a friend of ours inviting us over for a potluck meal.  She and her roommate were making tasty chicken and veggie stir fry with rice.  So the appetizer/side dish was up to me.  Now, I’ve got a ton of appetizer recipes saved for any occasion—TV-and-nosh session, cocktail party, theme party—but none that really seem to go with stir-fry.  It’s a meal by itself.  That’s kind of the point.  You don’t have to make anything to go with it.

But! Luckily I had pinned (saved to Pinterest, for those who don’t know) a Himalayan dumpling recipe from ecurry.com, and the recipe only lookedlike it’d take about an hour.  Also, like a ton of fun.

This is the recipe I used:

http://www.ecurry.com/blog/starters-snacks/momo-the-himalayan-dumplings/

We had all the ingredients on hand, which is just so exciting when you’re both pumped for a recipe and short on time, so right after finishing our texts I got right down to business.

People.  When you are excited for dumplings, and you alsohave never made dumplings before, and you have a pseudo deadline for making these, even when you have all the ingredients on hand, just know that you will be dealing with these tiny, chubby monsters for far longer than is reasonable.  Especially when you need to thaw out a pound of ground meat (I used beef) and don’t have a microwave.  Even when you do the defrost-while-cooking stovetop method.  Especially when between scraping and crumbling chunks of hard beef you need to mince onions and grate ginger and chop cilantro and dissect Thai chilies to extract the seeds and not get juice in your eyes.   And then when you get every filling ingredient in a big glass bowl and the dough is ready, you still need to shape the little demons.  (Yeah, they went from cute to spiteful right quick.)

Another word of advice.  Although the original recipe’s method of shaping the dough might result in tastier, more attractive, and more authentic Himalayan dumplings, you do not—and I did not—need to roll out inch-wide balls of dough and then flatten each one individually.  I started with that method, but about five balls in realized I have both a rolling pin and a biscuit cutter, and so I spread out the entire dough mass onto my biggest cutting board and went to town with the pin.   After few circles were made, I enlisted the husband to help fill the dough pockets and seal them.  They sealed really well, with none of the fork-cinching hullabaloo I’ve heard about with some dumplings.  Our fingertips worked just fine.  I found that cupping a dough circle in my palm with the middle of the circle over the place where my palm meets my fingers was the easiest method; after I lay down a spoonful of filling, I simply closed my hand and the edges of the dough met up pretty evenly.

Of course, about a fourth of the way through filling we realized we were to be at the potluck in about five minutes, so we packed up our dough, filling, and uncooked dumplings to finish at our friends’ house.   We (read: I) were not frustrated at all at this point, and very rationally packed up our formed dumplings in individual squares of parchment paper so that the outsides didn’t stick to each other and we didn’t have a giant, inseparable glob of sticky dough with pockets of ground beef and minced roots to contend with once we arrived at the potluck.

Except that’s not at all what we did, and we did have to deal with the dough mass upon arrival, meaning we dumped it all on a baking sheet and decided to kill it—er, cook it—in the oven.

The rest of the dumpling making was a great deal of fun.  I wandered from the kitchen to the living room scene with pads of dough in my palms, shaping and stretching, muttering about the little suckers under my breath.  We steamed them and ate them.  They were flavorful, and toothsome, and so nicely portable, which works well at an informal potluck.  I like them with soy sauce.

Here’s what I did differently from ecurry.com:

  1. Beef instead of chicken or pork
  2. Rolling out the dough and then cutting circles instead of shaping circles one by one
  3. Instead of using a steamer, we MacGyver’d a contraption using a large pot with tin foil laid over it, snuggled the foil around the edges, and poked through substantial holes.  We put squares of wax paper underneath each dumpling, although I’d use parchment paper if you have it, so they wouldn’t stick.  It works perfectly well.  We’ve done it for steamed buns multiple times.
  4. Skipped the dipping sauce, although it looks delicious and I’ll make it next time if I have time.

There you have it, folks: how to half-make Himalayan dumplings to serve late at a party.  In the end, they turned out, and I really like the idea of the dumpling wrapper: just flour and enough water to get the flour to stick.  The result was chewy and not overwhelming in flavor, letting the filling shine. I’m looking forward to making this dough regularly, and stuffing it with whatever we have in the fridge, or mixing it up geography-wise and filling it with potatoes and cheese for more of a pierogi deal.  It seems like a fun concept to play with, which is what I like cooking to be about.

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