Pelmeni is one of Russia’s national dishes, a favourite in Russian households, and you can find pelmeni in almost every restaurant in Russia. This dish is very popular in nearly every household in Russia, especially during winter season. rather than buying ready-made pelmeni in the supermarkets, the housewives prefer making loads of them and freeze, so the hearty dinner is almost ready everytime they need it.
Pelmeni are dumplings made up with a filling wrapped in a thin dough, traditionally pelmeni are filled with minced beef, pork and onion, or it can also be filled with mushrooms, vegetables, like potato, or with curd cheese (and in this way they are often refered to as vareniki). The traditional way to eat pelmeni is to dress them with sour cream. Typically, pelmeni are served undressed, with sour cream or ketchup available on the table. Another way to eat pelmeni is to serve them in their own cooking liquid, with a dollop of butter.
When researching this dish, I found that not every recipe was the same, which of-course makes sense now, because people tend to have their own unique methods for preparing the pastry, and their own preferences for the filling they use.
Judging from my previous attempts, I think we all know that I’m no professional MasterChef, but I did feel very confident in my ability to make these delicious dumplings. I know that pelmeni is a dish with which people love to experiment, but considering the failed attempts I’ve had in preparing my blini, I decided that this time it would be wise, for the sake of my bruised ego, to stick with the original recipe.
Ingredients you will need for preparing pelmeni with mushrooms:
Method for preparing pelmeni:
First begin by preparing your dough, you will need to mix your flour, eggs, water or milk, salt, until it becomes sticky. Flour your work surface and begin to knead your dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Once your dough is nice and kneaded, begin chopping fresh mushrooms, and then dice your onions.
To a frying pan, add a drizzle of olive oil to fry your mushrooms and onions, before adding salt and pepper to taste. After your mushrooms and onions are cooked, put aside to cool down.
On the floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll out your dough until it is thin but not so thin that it tears.
Once you’ve rolled out your dough, use a glass or a cup to cut out as many circles out of your dough as you can get.
Once you have your circles prepared, now it’s time to use a teaspoon to fill the centre of your circles with your fried mushrooms and onions.
Fold the circles with your filling into half shaped moons, pinch the edges together to secure the filling inside, then connect both ends and pinch together. Remember to dust your pelmeni with flour to stop them from sticking together.
You can cook your pelmeni immediately after shaping, or if you would rather save them for another day, you can always store them in the freezer.
When you choose to cook them, bring a pot of water to boil, season with salt and pepper for flavour, and then carefully add your pelmeni the boiling water, and don’t forget to stir regularly to stop them from sticking to the pot.
Boil for 20 minutes, or until they are cooked.
Serve with your preferred accompaniments.
My attempt at preparing pelmeni:
I would like to point out that I’m not a vegetarian, I didn’t have any mince-meat so I decided to use mushrooms instead.
Before I totally shock you all with how great my pelmeni were, I would like all of you to know that I actually followed the recipe for the most part, except the fact that mine may have been a little undercooked.
I started with preparing the mixture for the dough; salt, pepper, I can’t remember if I used eggs, but from the looks of it, I probably didn’t.
I also added a bit of salt to my mixture before I began mixing it all together. I dreaded actually getting my hands doughy, but it had to be done, especially if you’re not using an electric mixer.
As you can see, I wrapped my kneaded dough in foil paper (I didn’t have cling film), and greased with a bit of olive oil before placing in the fridge for half an hour.
While frying the mushrooms and onions, I added a pinch of salt and a pinch of ground black pepper.
Now that my dough was nicely chilled and easier to work with, I floured my surface and started rolling. I didn’t actually have a rolling pin, so instead I used an empty wine bottle.
I rolled my dough for about 5 minutes, and consistently dusted it with flour to stop it from sticking.
I then used the end of a can of peas to make my circles by pressing it down on to the dough and twisting it simultaneously.
After I made the perfect pelmeni circles, I then spooned a teaspoon of mixture into the centre of my circle, before folding the circles into a half moon shape. I pressed down on the edges to secure the filling inside the pastry, and then brought the ends together and attached them to seal.
Using a fork, I made a decorative ribbon-like pattern on the edge of the pastry.
In my boiling water, I added a chicken stock cube, half an onion and a clove of crushed garlic; leaving the pot to simmer for a few minutes. After letting it infuse, I fished out the onion and garlic and added my pelmeni to the boiling broth.
I left them to boil for about 8-10 minutes.
These are my finished pelmeni. Although they looked good, the taste was the true indicator of my success.
They tasted truly sensation, especially smothered in a good serving of Philadelphia soft cheese.
The actual pelmeni were hearty and filling, they absorbed the flavour of the broth and the soft cheese made it all the more flavoursome.
Now I’m inspired to challenge myself even more.
As ‘A Taste of Russia’ near ends, just two more recipes to go, I’ll be attempting to make one of my two final dishes another national dish, and my very last dish will be a Russian dessert (blini doesn’t count as a dessert because mine was more savoury then sweet). I will then tie up my blog series with a little insight into the customs and traditional of Russian dining, so that we are able to throw our own dinner party.
If you have any Russian friends, why not try to impress them by making pelmeni, blini, or olivier salad.
If you’re planning a trip to Russia, and would much rather learn to make Russian food from an actual Russian chef, clink here to see where and how you can do it.
Stayed tuned for the next instalment, and remember you can always share your attempts with us on our Facebook page.