Last year, I had the privilege to take part in a Kurdish meal of epic proportions in Nashville. The star of the 25-course meal was these dumplings. Kotulk Daw is made of three parts: The dumpling dough, the meat stuffing, and the soup (which at the end is really a sturdy sauce) the dumplings cook in. Don’t be afraid of what seems complex, it isn’t, and this is the type of real cooking you need to have in your repertoire. Be sure to serve this with assorted Middle Eastern vegetables, plates of onion-orange-olive, bowls of lemon and roasted hot chiles, and so on…the more the merrier.
Kurdish Dumplings in Yogurt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for oiling
- 3/4 pound ground beef
- 3/4 pound ground lamb
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 small celery rib, minced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- One 14-ounce package Cream of Wheat
- 2 cups graham flour (see Note)
- 2 cups warm water
- 5 cups full-fat plain yogurt
- 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 1/4 cup finely chopped dill, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Make the Dumplings
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the beef, lamb and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned and nearly cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the filling to a bowl and let cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the Cream of Wheat with the graham flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil until a dough starts to form. Turn the shaggy dough out onto a work surface and knead until very smooth and pliable, about 7 minutes. Lightly oil your hands and form the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Transfer the balls to a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.
Work with one piece of dough at a time: With your thumb, make a deep depression in the dough and spoon a heaping tablespoon of the filling into the depression. Gather the dough at the top and pinch together tightly to form a little purse. Gently flatten the dumpling to a 3/4-inch-thick round. Return to the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Make the Soup
In a large saucepan, combine the yogurt with the stock and a generous pinch of salt and bring just to a boil, whisking frequently. Stir in the mint and the 1/4 cup each of dill and cilantro. Add the dumplings, partially cover and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the dumplings are plump and the soup is thickened, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt. Spoon the dumplings and soup into shallow bowls and garnish with finely chopped dill and cilantro; serve.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.