Matzah ball

For the Christmas Eve nightlife event targeted at young Jewish singles, see Matzo Ball.
Matzah ball

Matzah balls in a bowl of soup
Alternative names kneydl (frequently also transliterated as knaidel or kneidel)[1]
Type Dumpling
Region or state Ashkenazi Jewish areas of Central and Eastern Europe, Israel and the Jewish Diaspora[2][3][4]
Serving temperature temperature at which broth simmers[5][6]
Main ingredients matzah meal, egg, water, oil or schmaltz or margarine[5][6]
Cookbook: Matzah ball  Media: Matzah ball

Matzah balls (Yiddish: קניידלעך kneydlekh pl., singular קניידל kneydl; with numerous other transliterations) are an Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumpling made from a mixture of matzah meal, eggs, water, and a fat, such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat. Matzah balls are traditionally served in chicken soup. For some they are a staple food on Passover.

Schmaltz (chicken fat) imparts a distinctive flavor, but many modern cooks prefer vegetable oils or margarine.[6][7] The balls are dropped into a pot of salted boiling water or chicken soup, then the heat turned down to a simmer and a lid placed on the pot. The balls swell during the cooking time of approximately 30 minutes.

The texture of matzah balls may be light or dense, depending on the recipe and the skill of the cook. Enthusiasts classify matzah balls as "floaters" or "sinkers".[8]


Although official transliterations, done by the YIVO Institute, of Yiddish words into English exist, many transliterations are commonly performed on a nonstandard basis.[1] Alternate transliterations of the Yiddish term for matzah ball, in the singular, include: knaidl,[9] knaidel,[1] kneidl,[10] and kneidel.[1] Transliterations in the plural include: knaidels,[11] knaidlach,[12] knaidelach,[13] kneidels,[14] kneidlach,[15] kneidelach,[5] kneydls,[16] kneydels,[17] and kneydlach.[4]

Spelling bee controversy

The various transliterations of the term gave rise to minor controversy in June 2013, when it was the winning word in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Thirteen-year-old Arvind Mahankali of New York spelled "knaidel" correctly in accordance with Webster's Third New International Dictionary, the official dictionary of the Bee, to become the champion.[1] However, there was controversy whether that was indeed the definitive spelling of the term, with others preferring "knaydel", "kneydel", "knadel", or "kneidel".[1]

World records

According to the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE), Joey Chestnut holds the world record for eating matzah balls; he ate 78 matzah balls in 8 minutes.[18]

In 2010, the world's largest matzah ball was prepared by Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s New York Delicatessen, located in Tucson, Arizona. He created a 426-pound (193 kg) matzah ball for New York's Jewish Food Festival. The ingredients were 125 pounds (57 kg) of matzah meal, 25 pounds (11 kg) of schmaltz, over 1,000 eggs and 20 pounds (9 kg) of potato starch.[19] This broke the previous record set by Chef Anthony Sylvestri of Noah's Ark Deli to raise awareness for a charity basketball game,[20] which weighed 267 pounds (121 kg) and was 29.2 inches (74 cm) long and was made from "1000 eggs, 80 pounds of margarine, 200 pounds of matzah meal, and 20 pounds of chicken base".[21]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Some Say the Spelling of a Winning Word Just Wasn't Kosher". New York Times. 1 June 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  2. Nathan, Joan (2011). Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook. Random House. p. 12. ISBN 9780307777850.
  3. Durham, Michael (2009). National Geographic Traveler: New York (3d ed.). National Geographic Books. p. 19. ISBN 9781426205231.
  4. 1 2 Wasserstein, Bernard (2012). On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War. Simon and Schuster. p. 89. ISBN 9781416594277.
  5. 1 2 3 Levy, Faye. 1,000 Jewish Recipes (electronic ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. RA2–PA27. ISBN 9780544176348.
  6. 1 2 3 Good Eating's Passover Recipes (electronic). Chicago Tribune Staff. Agate Publishing. 2013. p. PT58. ISBN 9781572844490.
  7. Vegetarian Fatfree Passover Recipes
  8. Roman, Alison (April 2, 2014). "How to Master Matzo Ball Soup". Bon Appetit.
  9. Cohen, Jayne (2012-09-26). Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover's Treasury of Classics and Improvisations (electronic ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. PT545. ISBN 0544187032.
  10. The Taste of Shabbos. Aish HaTorah Women's Organization (2d, corrected ed.). Feldheim Publishers. 1988 [1987]. p. 55. ISBN 9780873064262.
  11. Kancigor, Judy Bart (2007). Cooking Jewish. Workman Publishing. p. 65. ISBN 9780761135814.
  12. Marks, Gil (1999). The World of Jewish Cooking. Simon and Schuster. p. 254. ISBN 9780684835594.
  13. Kanter, Beth (2012). Washington, DC Chef's Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Nation's Capital. Globe Pequot. p. 70. ISBN 9780762781485.
  14. Lehman-Wilzig, Tami (2007). Passover Around the World. Kar-Ben Publishing. ISBN 9780822588030.
  15. Singer, Isidore; Adler, Cyrus, eds. (1912). The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. 4. Funk and Wagnalls. p. 257.
  16. Patai, Raphael (2000). Apprentice in Budapest: Memories of a World That Is No More. Lexington Books. p. 156. ISBN 9780739102107.
  17. Plaut, Joshua (2012). A Kosher Christmas. Rutgers University Press. p. 95. ISBN 9780813553818.
  18. International Federation of Competitive Eating - IFOCE
  19. Matzo ball history has been made
  20. World's biggest matzo ball unveiled in NYC: 267-pound ball gobbled up by hungry lower East Siders
  21. Weiner, David (August 6, 2009). "Giant Matzah Ball Sets Guinness World Record". Huffington Post.
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