German Food: The Humble Knödel Posted by Constanze on Nov 30, 2014 in Food
Today I’d like to devote some time to the wonderful German/Austrian food that is the Knödel! Also called Kloße in some parts of Germany, the Knödel is a dumpling that is synonymous for me with Bavaria. Ever since I was a child, I looked forward to eating the delicious Knödel made by my Oma (grandma) and Großtante (great aunt). It never disappointed then, and it still doesn’t today!
As I said, the Knödel is a German/Austrian dumpling. However, the Knödel is very versatile. It can be made from stale bread (Semmelknödel), stale ‘Pretzel’ dough (Breznknödel), or potatoes (Kartoffelknödel), can contain meat (Fleischknödel) or be vegetarian. I ate a bright purple Rote-Beete Knödel (beetroot dumpling) at the famous restaurant Wirtshaus in der Au last time I was in Munich, while B had a Spinatknödel (spinach dumpling) – both were delicious. Then there is the Serviettenknödel, which is shaped like a loaf rather than a ball, and gets its name from the fact that it is cooked in a serviette (linen/cotton cloth).
Knödel can be added to soups and stews to provide texture and bulk, or eaten alongside meat and vegetables, in place of potatoes.
But the Knödel is not just a savoury dish! You can get sweet Knödel, too, such as Aprikosen-/Marillenknödel (apricot dumplings) or Pflaumen-/Zwetschgenknödel (plum dumplings). These look similar to the savoury Knödel, but have a sweet, fruity filling, and are often accompanied by a sweet sauce. That means you can have an entire Knödel-themed meal: main course AND dessert!
It is likely that the word “Knödel” originates from the German verbs knoten (to knot) or kneten (to knead), referring to the methods used to make the dumpling.
Almost all cultures have their own variation on the classic dumpling, and it is therefore unclear where it originated. It is likely that the German Knödel were originally eaten by poor families and/or during tough economic times, to bulk up meals; since they contain basic ingredients such as flour, stale bread and eggs, and are easy to make by hand (not many kitchen tools required), they can be quickly made any time to add to a meal.
I’ve made Knödel a few times, but I’m never truly happy with them, because I’m forever trying to make them as tasty as the ones my Mutter, Oma and Großtante have made – a practically impossible task! So last time I was in Germany I bought these pre-packaged Knödel, which you simply boil:
I know that this is horrendous coming from someone who loves to cook from scratch, but these Knödel aren’t actually bad – especially if you want to try them at home for the first time. They’re really easy to prepare, and are quite flavoursome considering they are ready-made.
However, if you’d like to make your own Knödel, click here for easy recipes for various different types. I picked this link because the recipes are by an Austrian lady, so they should be authentic!
All that’s left to say is: Guten Appetit!