A knaidel (plural knaidelach) is an Ashkenazi Jewish dumpling added to soups or stews. The most common form of knaidel, known as the matzo ball, is made from unleavened matzo meal and served in chicken soup for Passover. Matzo meal contains wheat, making it unsuitable for those on a gluten free diet. I developed this potato knaidel recipe as a delicious and gluten free alternative to matzo balls. It creates a firm yet fluffy dumpling that goes quite nicely in a bowl of piping hot Chicken Soup for Knaidelach (click for recipe).
I came up with this recipe after a LOT of experimentation. I used a German potato dumpling recipe as a starting point, then modified from there to make it flavorful and completely free of gluten. Follow the recipe instructions carefully; making modifications, substitutions, or skipping steps will lead to a pot full of mush, rather than nicely textured knaidelach. It’s worth the effort; these potato dumplings are truly delightful. In fact, some members of my family actually prefer them to matzo balls!
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- 2 lbs large red potatoes
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1 1/2-2 cups blanched almond meal
- Salt and white pepper
- Place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Scrub the unpeeled potatoes till clean. Boil the unpeeled potatoes until tender—it will take about 45 minutes.
- Drain. Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature. Peel the skin from the potatoes and discard. Chop the peeled potatoes into large chunks.Place in the refrigerator and chill until they are cold all the way through (at least 2 hours). You can refrigerate them overnight, if you need to.Place a fresh pot of salted water on the stove to boil. From this point on, work quickly, or refrigerate the ingredients between steps. The potato mixture works best when it’s cold.
- Remove potatoes from refrigerator and pat them dry if any moisture has accumulated. Place potatoes in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or run them through a ricer. Mash again with a fork to get out as many lumps as possible.Mix in the egg, potato starch, 1 1/2 cups of almond meal, 1 ¼ tsp salt and a pinch of white pepper to form a dough. If the dough seems sticky, or if you prefer a denser and heavier dumpling, you can add more almond meal.
- By now your water should be boiling. Turn the stove heat down until the water is nearly boiling—the water should be “shivering” slightly, just on the verge of a boil.Form potato dough into balls using ¼ cup of dough for each.
- Gently place the knaidelach into the hot water.
- The dumplings will sink to the bottom of the pot and slowly rise as they cook.Cook knaidelach in batches of 4-5 at a time; do not cook more than that or they will stick together and fall apart in the pot. The dumplings will lose a little bit of their potato coating as they cook, but should retain their shape.
- Let the knaidelach cook for 10-15 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish.Keep the dumplings covered with a clean, damp towel until ready to serve.
- Serve 1 or 2 knaidelach per bowl of soup. They go great in chicken soup as an alternative to matzo balls (if you need a recipe, check out my Chicken Soup for Knaidelach). They can also be added to vegetarian soup or cholent.