Russian Pelmeni (meat dumplings)

During our trip we will visit the first and only ‘Pelmen Museum’ (Dumpling Museum), which is located at the house of the merchant Smirnov in Miass, a small South-Ural town. We will not only learn some interesting facts about this delicious Russian food, but participate in a master class in making them.

Historically the kitchen was used not only for cooking. Family gathered there mostly, friends were invited not to a dining or sitting room but to the kitchen to chat, laugh and have a drink together. In Soviet times the kitchen was the heart of most houses – small but very warm and it created a homely atmosphere.

The first meat dumplings appeared in Ural in the middle of the 15th century. Ancient Uralians found that type of food ideal for the Russian winter because pelmeni are best when frozen, whilst good to leave at home for the family and take away during military campaigns.

By the end of the 19th century pelmeni were recognized all over Russia and become one of its symbols.

In some homes it was popular to put a ‘surprise’ in one of the dumplings – instead of meat, a coin or button or peppercorn could be wrapped, offering luck and happiness to the one who discovers it. Siberian dumplings were best served only in a large bowl. This signified that the host wants those sitting at the table to stay in his house for as long as possible.

Pelmeni do not require side dishes, they are more frequently served just with butter, sour cream and vinegar. The best traditional beverage to accompany the meal is vodka. However, traditional Russian soft drinks like kvass or compot are good enough.

The word pelmeni describes the ear-shaped appearance of Russian dumplings. It is not that easy to make them small and delicious at the same time. Making them is almost as much fun as eating them.