Eat Dumplings Like Ukrainian Nobility: Halushky through History And Modern Times


No matter how healthy we eat and what diets we follow, now and then we all have the desire to grab a delicious source of carbs and stuff ourselves happily. Burghers, doughnuts, pasta, baozi, samosa, pancakes, – the list is long but far from exhaustive. Almost every nation has its traditional dough-based dish (apart from bread) loved by kids and adults and eaten regularly.  

If pizza and muffins are younger inventions, then the idea to make a dough and boil it has been around for millennia. Get some crops, make flour, mix with water (and some oil), tear bits of dough by hand, and boil in the pot. Voila, the fast and filling dinner is ready. Because of universality and simplicity, this food can be found on menus across continents, with few variations. Dumplings, momos, jiaozi, Knodel – the diversity of names suggests that people around the world know and appreciate this simple but nutritious dish.  

And what about Ukraine? Does this rich cuisine feature its own variety of dumplings? Are they sweet or savory? How are they eaten? 

Halushky: Ukrainian dumplings 

Definitely, the country with long traditions of producing various crops could not but have its own version of dumplings. They are called halushky and are proud representatives of this family of foods. Halushky are mentioned in high Ukrainian literature as far back as the 18th century, but they have been around for much longer. Folk songs and fairy tales list them lovingly as a dish fit for the table of kings, nobility, and commoners alike. 

The recipe was essentially the same – flour, water, some oil, salt, and a big pot to boil them. It was the additives, side dishes, and sauces that made a difference. Rich people consumed halushky with meat, crisp bacon, and fancy dips. Commoners ate them with browned onions, milk, cheese, or vegetable kvass. There was even a special utensil for eating halushky – a single chopstick. An eater would pick one halushka up from a commonly shared plate with this stick and munch on it, just like we enjoy kebabs or grilled sausages on sticks today.   

The modern face of halushky 

If you wonder if there is a place for halushky in contemporary Ukrainian cuisine, fear not. Halushky are living through a real renaissance currently, and the Ukrainian fusion cuisine has given them a new face and new tastes. These bits of dough are versatile because they can take any taste and flavor. You can enjoy savory and sweet dumplings, served alone, with gravy and in soups, fried in oil or steamed in milk, served with hot sauce, cream, bacon, butter, or fresh berries, added to bowls or sold as snacks. 

The kinds of halushky you must try: 

– Cheese dumplings where cheese is added directly to the dough; 

– Milky dumplings (served in milk);

– Savory dumplings served with bacon or meaty gravy;

– A soup with dumplings (essentially, the broth with dumplings and veggies in it);

– Dessert dumplings served with fresh berries, jam, or honey;

– Potato dumplings (the signature dish of the western parts of Ukraine);

– Your own version of dumplings, where you eat them with your preferred side dish or sauce, like soy sauce, Bolognese sauce, or Nutella.  

If you explore Ukrainian cuisine but have not tried halushky yet, you miss the whole point. Make them at home or buy at a small cozy Ukrainian eatery – the key is to thoroughly enjoy them and come back for more.