A shower thought:
If there’s a Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, a Herring Festival in Denmark, a Pizzafest in Naples, and a Dumpling Festival in Hong Kong, then there should definitely be a Kubbeh Festival in Jerusalem. (I even have a name for it: “Kubbebah,” which is what Jerusalemites call the fried kubbeh dumpling.) It would be a gastronomical experience for locals and tourists. All the foodies I know would love to spend an autumn evening in Jerusalem, walking around the city and trying different variations of kubbeh and kubbeh soups. (There are many kinds in Israel, including Kurdish, Iraqi, and Turkish). These Middle Eastern dumplings need to be introduced to the rest of the world.
I wonder if Nir Barak, the mayor of Jerusalem, and Yotam Ottolenghi, the informal representative of Jerusalem cuisine, would love my idea as much as I do.
Another shower thought: how about celebrating an International Dumpling Day, where people around the world eat dumplings?
I love all types of dumplings, Jiazi, Buuz, Gyoza or kubbeh. But making the dough and the filling, then stuffing the dough, rolling it into a ball, then cooking it, is a long process that requires two things: (1) Time, which, these days, nobody has (including a whole generation of Iraqi and Kurdish grandmas who have discovered Facebook); and (2) Patience, a skill that has been lost under thousands of selfies and food shots.
I don’t have time or patience, but I also don’t live around the corner from Machne Yehuda in Jerusalem, so, if I crave kubbeh, I have to make them myself. And when I finally make them, I’m reminded how meditative and fun the process actually is.
If you’re still not convinced that they are worth your time and effort, just think about the impression that you will make on your vegetarian foodie guests when you serve them a Kurdish dish.
Beet soup with vegetable dumplings (red kubbeh soup)
For the broth:
- 4 medium beets – peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 celery stalks cut into big chunks
- 2 quarts filtered water
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 tomatoes – grated or blended
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- Black pepper
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or cane)
- 3 Persian lemons, pierced with a knife (optional)
For the stuffing:
- Half green cabbage
- 1 small onion
- 2 tablespoons canola oil (or any oil of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- Handful parsley
- 10 mint leaves
- ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts
For the dumplings:
- 2 cups semolina flour
- ½ cup non GMO corn meal
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
To make the soup:
Put the beets, celery and water into a large soup pot and bring to a boil.
Put the oil into a large skillet on a medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4 minutes.
Add the grated tomatoes, sea salt and black pepper to the skillet and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Pour the content of the skillet into the soup pot, then add the lemon juice, sugar and Persian lemons and stir. Simmer uncovered.
To make the filling:
- Finely chop the cabbage and diced the onion. Put the canola oil in a skillet (wipe the one you used earlier) and put it over a medium-high heat. Add the cabbage, onion and allspice and saute for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Finely chop the parsley and mint and add them to the skillet with the salt and pumpkin seeds. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
To make the dough:
- In a small bowl, combine the semolina, cornmeal and salt and stir gently until it forms a dough. Knead the dough gently. It should be a little bit sticky but if it is too sticky add a little bit semolina and let it rest for 10 minutes.
To make the dumplings:
- Grease a plate or tray and set aside.
- Oil your hands, pinch a small piece (about the size of a ping pong) of the dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball on your palm and place a tablespoon of the filling on the center of it. To make light dumplings, flatten the dough out as much as possible. Wrap the edges around the filling and pinch them together to seal, then gently roll it into a ball. Place the dumplings on the greased tray and repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Place the balls into the soup and cook for 30 minutes. The balls will soak up liquid and get bigger.
Serve with chopped parsley or dill and a drizzle of olive oil or/and a tablespoon of sour cream. Bete’avon (bon appetit in Hebrew)!