Cepelinai refer to potato dumplings often stuffed with minced meat. In singular form, the dish is known as cepelinas and is the national dish of Lithuania. The dish is also known by the name, “Didžkukuliai” and appears similar to the Zeppelin airship. Due to resemblance to zeppelin airship, these potato dumplings are also called as zeppelin dumplings. The dumplings are characteristically football shaped and 10-20cm long; however, the size may vary from one region to another, with the dumplings made in western Lithuania being larger in size as compared to those made in eastern Lithuania.
Cepelinai Recipe- Ingredients Used and Preparation Overview
The preparation of Cepelinai is divided into three steps, viz a) preparing the potato dough, b) preparing the meat mixture, and c) preparing the gravy. The ingredients required for preparing the dumpling mixture consist of both boiled and raw potatoes, onion, and salt. The ingredients for meat mixture include ground pork or ground beef, or a mixture of both, onion, salt, pepper, and egg. The gravy ingredients consist of bacon, onion, sour cream, and black pepper.
Initially, all meat ingredients are mixed together and refrigerated. Thereafter, raw potatoes are grated and placed in a cheese cloth to squeeze out the excess water. The starch that remains at the bottom is mixed with potatoes, which is then combined with diced boiled potatoes, salt, and grated onion. Some portion of the dumpling dough is taken in the palm, on which the refrigerated meat mix is placed, and the dough is folded around this meat mixture and shaped in the form of football.
The same process is repeated with the remaining dough and meat mixtures, and the dumplings are then dropped into salted boiling water. Once done, they are dipped into an already prepared gravy made by combining fried onions and bacon with black pepper and sour cream.
The Cepelinai are normally served along with pork or bacon rinds and sour cream sauce.
Cepelinai Recipe Variations
A couple of recipe variations have been explained hereunder:
- Mushrooms are used as stuffing in a few recipe variations.
- Dry cottage cheese is also used at times as stuffing, instead of minced meat. The cheese stuffing is prepared by combining together farmers’ cheese, egg, sugar, salt, and caraway seeds.
A few things to be taken into consideration while preparing the Cepelinai are as follows:
- 2-3 drops of lemon juice is added to grated potatoes to prevent them from turning brown in color.
- Cornstarch is added to salted boiling water to prevent the dumplings from separating.