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History of Dumplings: History Behind A Famous Chinese Dish

History of Dumplings: History Behind A Famous Chinese Dish

“Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings or fins or roots. That is how we consider food. Food has a culture. It has a history. It has a story. It has relationships."

These words by Winona LaDuke hold true for every kind of food. Because for centuries families and loved ones have been brought together over a table of steaming and delicious food.

This is an important dish that unites generations across the world and reminds families who move away from their homeland in hopes of better livelihood and opportunities, about their culture. Maybe you were inspired to know more about dumplings when you came across the adorable Pixar short film named bao. Whatever the reason is, we are here to bring your queries to rest.

Where did dumplings originate?

Archeologists, after much research and consideration, have reached the conclusion that the dumpling had its origin from China during the Tang dynasty and even in Switzerland during 3600 BC. The traces of dumplings can be traced back to a roman manuscript of the name “Apicus” which was said to have been penned down during 400 AD. showcasing the rich heritage and background of the dish. Now dumplings are a popular dinner menu at restaurants, in parties and even during family get-togethers.

How are dumplings made?

The base product for dumplings are flour and other starch based foods with a filling of either pork,chicken or some veggies if you’re a vegetarian. They have a varied fillings as well that differ from occasions and with areas and taste. For instance you can use tofu,fruits,fish,cheese and sweets of your choice as well. It might not seem like a filling dish but with its varied stuffing and steam cooking it works wonders on your body and skin.

The best part about dumplings apart from the different dressings is that it can be cooked according to your preferences. So you can boil, bake, stir-fry and steam the delicious treats for your family.

What is the story behind dumplings?

Popular folklore suggests that the dumplings were invented by a medical practitioner named Zhang zhongjing. He after witnessing the suffering of the poor in his hometown during a particularly harsh winter came up with the remedy of the dumplings.

It is said that he in lamb skin and other fats filled the chinese herbs and chilis and boiled them. Afterwards he offered them to the poor. This allowed them to strive on through the harsh winters and even protected them from frost bites because of the warmth of the dumplings. Thus people who celebrate the legacy of Zhang Zhongjing eat dumplings in the winters with their families.

Are there regional differences for dumplings?

The answer is yes. The dumplings are eaten in varied ways according to the choices of people and culture and the crops that are grown in different regions across the corners of the world. They have different stuffing and cooking procedures according to the places of their consumption. Let's take a look at the different types of dumplings eaten in different areas of the world.


The Jiaozi or the Chinese dumplings contain a healthy filling of finely chopped meats, vegetables wrapped up in a thin layer of flour to hold all that goodness inside. The fillings are alternated according to seasons and available crops and products of the seasons like the beef,shrimp and chicken,garlic chives, spring onions and even scrambled eggs.

This is a traditional dish that forms various traditions for families. Especially during the Chinese New Year, families place coins and candies in the dumplings while cooking them. So that the winning person has good luck and best wishes for the rest of the year.

In the northern area of China the dumplings are paired with dipping sauce made out of vinegar,chilli oil and soy sauce. The word Jiozi itself sounds similar to transitioning to a new year. Thus people usually enjoy it with their families during the new year. They are also a delicacy enjoyed to celebrate the harvesting for the year. Being steaming hot they are also eaten during winter solstices to hope for a kinder cold weather.

Are there different kinds of dumplings?


Baozi are a different type of dumpling paired with yeast leaved buns and fillings that could either be sweet, savoury or salty according to preferences. Tales narrate the idea that Baozi was created as an offering to the Chinese gods. They hoped that these offerings could ease their sufferings in the wars.


The tangbao dumplings are cooked in a soup and are said to have originated from the Jiangnan region of China. They contain stuffings of thinly sliced beef or pork meat. They are specially cooked in bamboo baskets with their dough for a richer flavor.


These are smaller rice dumplings made with rice flour. They are usually sweet to taste, filled with the goodness of sweet red bean paste, peanut, sesame. They could also be served without any kind of filling. They are eaten with loved ones during the lantern festival, a part of the Chinese New Year. It also marks the beginning of the winter solstice with its sweet tang.


Naturally called Mandu in Korean, the dumplings are also a popular choice in the country as well. The earliest Mandu can be found back in the Goryeosa era. They are usually combined with pork, bulgogi, kimchi, galbi and even with noodles. They can be served warm after either boiling, steaming or even stir-frying. The dumplings are also made with a soup base called Mandu-guk(dumpling soup).


Banku or Kenkey are starch based dumplings from Africa. The banku is prepared after rigorous kneading of the dough and the kenkey are made by both boiling and then steaming in corn or banana leaves for added flavours. Melkkos are another variety of dumplings usually eaten in South Africa. This sweet dumpling is usually filled with the sweetness of dried fruits, milk and butter.


The Bajan dumplings are made out of corn flour. They are also spiced with added flair of nutmeg, cinnamon etc. They are also cooked with a soup base and even served as stew. They have a meat stuffing and are also poached in a gravy for added taste.

North America

Baked sweet dumplings are a unique touch to this dish in North America. This is usually made with stuffing of fruits like apples and then baking them as pastries blended with cinnamon, brown sugar and butter. Some of the dumplings are also boiled in stew with flour, milk and fats. They are cut into bite shaped pieces and then cooked with the stew. The popular dessert pair is made with sweet fruits like blackberries, apples and even strawberries.


Boraki is the Armenian counterpart of the dumplings, served with a side dash of sour cream and or yogurt, also chopped garlic. This delicacy is also served with a clear soup. This variant of dumpling contained thinly chopped and pre fried meat stuffing. They are open at the top and cylinder shaped to allow the flavor to spread properly.

It also has another variant of the name Mataz that is in demand in some caucasian cuisines. It is usually stuffed with a spicy meat mixture of ground beef, lamb paired with some veggies like onion, chilli pepper, potatoes and mushrooms etc.


Thus the ever growing list of different dumplings for you to try has been presented to you. Now you may travel across the continent and try these delicious treats with their own tweaks and turns in various countries. Each new region has its own new added way of eating this healthy dish. Thus the path for your experiments is ready.

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