Inception dumpling Halloween!
Is the only thing better than dumplings…dumplings inside of other dumplings?
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I’ve spent much of this year talking about the fact that I was working on soon-to-launch a print magazine version of Above the Fold. Now that the first issue is finally on the horizon (copies will be ready for buy in about a month or less!), it’s time to talk about something else for a change, however briefly.
Something unusual. Something a little bit creepy, since it’s Halloween. Something that, if you’re anything like me, might just blow your mind. Something like….dumplings that live inside of other dumplings!
Warning: Those with trypophobia might want to sit this email out, as the visuals may not be your jam.
Part 1: Mother khinkali
Where this all began: At least a year ago, I saw the first of many videos of what appears to be known as “mother khinkali,” a dish served at a selection of restaurants throughout Georgia (the country, of course). In the videos, an enormous, plate-sized dumpling is brought to the table. One disembodied hand grips the cylindrical doughy knob at the tip while the other dramatically severs it off, both then peeling back the dumpling skin to reveal a group of smaller khinkali hiding inside.
My original intent, admittedly, was to research the story behind this phenomenon—is this dumpling-in-a-dumpling a tradition with historic roots, the dumplings boiled or steamed inside of more pleated dough for some type of technical benefit? Is it simply an aesthetically curious dish that is prime for viral social media sharing?
There are many videos just like the above one on Instagram (where the hashtag #motherkhinkali will get you where you need to go) as well as TikTok. For something a bit more soothing, here’s an 11-minute video of one being made in a mountain village in Azerbaijan on YouTube.
With the latter being my hunch, I patiently continued to press “save” with each new video I saw, deciding that one day I’d get to the bottom of it (note: if anyone already knows the deal here, please share in the comments).
But then, more dumplings-inside-of-dumplings continued to come to my attention, and I reached a point where I simply could not help but share them with all of you. Which brings us to…
Part 2: Potli momo
Next up, we have Kuch Bhi Chalega, a restaurant in West Delhi, India that specializes in made-for-cameras stunt food that also looks extremely appetizing. I’ve been eyeing them for quite a while, particularly one of their signature dishes, potli noodles—a large tangle of noodles sealed inside of a pleated pouch of dough and baked. (Is it a dumpling? Why not?)
Kuch Bhi Chalega has taken the concept a step more meta with a dish called potli momo: A similarly baked pouch of dough, this time filleted tableside to reveal a large pile of orange-hued tandoori momos that appear to be filled with paneer among other exceedingly delicious things.
Part 3: Pregnant tortellini
Earlier this month, my sister sent me a video of a jumbo tortellini, sliced open to reveal a cluster of tiny tortellinis tucked inside. It’s the work of Long Island restaurant Maldon & Mignonette, and popularized thanks to a video from a food influencer whose geo location for the video is simply: “GIANT PREGNANT TORTELLINI.”
As an aside: Part of the creepiness factor here, of course, is the term “mother” and “pregnant” being used in association with something that is gobbled down by the recipient, particularly when you factor in the dramatic table-side presentation.
Another way to think of them, less biologically, is as meta dumplings, or inception dumplings, which is where I’ve landed personally. (This is where I admit that I still haven’t actually seen Inception, because I’m incredibly movie-deficient, but absolutely plan to, and believe that I’m using the concept correctly.)
Part 4: Monster kurze
Finally, this past weekend, I saw the grand finale of this inception dumpling tour, the creation that drove me to finally get this all written down—it was created to celebrate Halloween, after all.
This dumpling is the masterwork of a restaurant in Estonia called The Kurze, which specializes in the beautiful Dagestani braided dumplings known as, you guessted it, kurze. For Halloween this year, they are sharing a special orange-and-black “monster” kurze (per Instagram’s translation function), with the petite braided dumplings braided again within a gigantic one, all boiled together.
It’s outrageous, it’s technically very difficult to pull off and ergo very impressive, and best of all, it’s fun!
All in all, it’s pretty neat, when you think about it, that in four different parts of the world, people thought not just to take dumpling dough and wrap it around a filling, but to then wrap those dumplings inside of an even bigger one.
As an unrelated bonus, I’ll leave you with these adorable ghosts, made by the wonderful Christine Jee of Dumpling Mart (read all about her felted dumplings right this way).
Above the Fold was created by Leah Mennies.