Potatoes and Curd Cheese Dumplings, or Pierogi ruskie

Ravioli, empanadas, gyoza, mandu… Dumplings – or pastry packages with various fillings –  appear in most of the traditional cookery books in the world. Pierogi (pronounced “p-ye-ro-ghee”), or Polish dumplings, have dozens of different traditional fillings, and their variations are infinite. They can be both sweet and savoury, bigger or smaller, with or without meat, but the pastry gives them the typical Polish touch. A bit thicker than the Asian one, it should be firm, a bit elastic, but never tough. Pierogi are also usually bigger than the Asian dumplings (not to mention the Italian ravioli), attaining sometimes a big fist size.

Even though I’m a declared carnivore, strangely, my favourite are the vegetarian pierogi (“pierogi ruskie”), filled with potatoes, curd cheese and fried onion. These ingredients make a very unusual and complex combination, impossible to compare to anything else and surprising when tasted for the first time. These dumplings’ name is erroneously translated as “Russian”, but they have got nothing to do with Russia. In fact, apart from a slightly offensive adjective meaning “Russian”, “ruskie” also refers to the region nowadays partly in Ukraine and partly in the Eastern Poland, and previously called “Red Ruthenia” (belonging to Poland before the 2nd World War). This is the region where this type of dumplings originated from. Consequently, they should be translated rather as “Ruthanian dumplings”. To make matters more complicated, the Ukrainians apparently call them “Polish dumplings”…

The Polish dumpling pastry is very easy to prepare, provided one has a kneading food processor. It is a bit longer and needs a bit of exercise when hand kneaded. A fork is the traditional tool to seal the edges and a very efficient one too. The dumplings are first quickly cooked, and then can be served straight away or fried. Some serve them with sour cream, others with chopped and fried cracklings or bacon or fried chopped onion. This pastry recipe comes from my mother and of course is the best! The filling is more or less the same in every “Ruthanian” pierogi recipe. Normally the dumplings are served as the main course, but if you make them smaller they can become original finger food.

Special equipment:

a kneading food processor (or strong hands and a bit of patience)

Preparation: 1 hour – 1 1/2 hour (depends on your experience and kneading-rolling velocity)



250 g white flour

100 ml hot (not boiling) water

1 egg yolk

1/2 tablespoon neutral tasting oil (not olive oil)

1/2 teaspoon salt


150g curd cheese (or 150g drained off cottage cheese, e.i. about 300g before draining)

150g cooked and peeled potatoes

1 medium onion

salt, pepper

1 tablespoon oil

Prepare the filling. Chop the onion and fry it in 1 tablespoon oil until slightly browned.

Mash the potatoes and combine with the cheese, the onions, the salt and the pepper. Mix well with a fork (not with a mixer!). Adjust the taste if necessary (the pepper should be very present in the overall taste).

Combine the pastry ingredients and knead them until the pastry is smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands, or combine them in a food processor. Mix them quickly with a kneading function.

Add more flour if necessary.

Cover the pastry with plastic film, since it dries very quickly.

Roll out half of the pastry to a 1/2 cm sheet (some people prefer 1 cm thick). Take a round pastry cutter or a glass and cut out 7 – 10 cm diameter circles. Fill them with a tablespoon of the cheese mixture, seal with your fingers, put on the table and press down the rims on one or both sides with fork’s teeth.

Layer the filled dumplings on a plate, separating the layers with plastic film, otherwise they’ll stick to each other.

Bring two litres of salted water to a boil.

Cook 4-5 dumplings at a time, counting 3 minutes from the moment they appear at the surface.

(After the second or third batch they’ll start sticking to the bottom of the pan, so you should push them a bit after 30 seconds, otherwise they’ll never go up to the surface).

Serve them immediately with sour cream or sprinkled with fried cracklings, or fried bacon cubes.

They can also be slightly fried and served crunchy. Personally I prefer them just cooked and served either with fried bacon or with fried onion.

If you want to serve them the following day, place them in a plastic box, putting cling film after each layer and closing the box tightly before putting them into the fridge.

15 Replies to “Potatoes and Curd Cheese Dumplings, or Pierogi ruskie”

  1. I didn’t know making dumpling was so easy. You really explain amazingly well. I will have to give this a go tonight. If I serve it as the main meal, then I just use sour cream as a dip with it…Does it need anything else (I know you mentioned fried bacon or fried onion) if served as a main meal? I am sure this will be a hit with my family. Even the pastry looks very healthy…Thank you for sharing…


  2. Shilpa, I am so glad you like this recipe! If you are in a hurry you can even use the Chinese frozen dumpling skins, but personally I love here the slightly chewy Polish dough. For a Spring touch maybe you can spronkle them with chives, however the fried crunchy onion is great. Remember to indulge in ground pepper in the filling. It acts here as a real spice not only the standard ‘salt and pepper’ addition. I hope you’ll enjoy the dumplings. They are one of the rare vegetarian meals I’m crazy about. Good luck!

  3. Oh, and maybe it would be nice with a cucumber salad? Though frankly when I see them I am so hungry I forget salads…

  4. Aah, my wife made these for me once – in Swedish they’re called “piroger”. Soooooooo good, although the dough wasn’t quite ideal. I suspect yours is better!

    1. Charles, it’s incredible! This filling of dumplings is typically Polish and the word “pierogi” is slavic, so either it came to Sweden through Russia or through Polish immigrants… or through Finland? (Although I’ve heard Russians don’t know this type of stuffing). Is curd cheese popular in Sweden?
      The pastry is quite easy to make in a food processor, but if it becomes tough or dry and loses elasticity, then it becomes very heavy too.

      1. I’m guessing through Finland – there’s a direct border link and many Russians in Finland, and equally many, many Finnish people in Sweden. Curd Cheese – I’m not sure about. Is it the same as “Quark”? My wife never spoke of it, although they have something called “Keso”, which is a bit like cottage cheese.

        1. Oh,so you didn’t have exactly the same filling? Then it might have come from Russia and Finland. This unusual filling is made with potatoes, onions and curd cheese (sometimes called farm cheese or fresh cheese). It’s something between cottage cheese and feta (in texture), it’s tough enough to be cut, but crumbles easier than feta. It’s used in savoury and also sweet dishes (for example to make baked cheesecake, there is a photo of crumbled curd cheese here http://www.withaglass.com/?p=7530).

          1. ah, no, indeed – traditional filling it was not. I can tell I would love the traditional filling a LOT. We had, I think, a creamy cantarelle mushroom filling, with chopped steak. It was fabulous, but definitely not “traditional” 🙂

            1. It’s funny it doesn’t sound repulsive to you! (It does to most foreigners! nonetheless, many of them love these dumplings once they taste them). THe steak and chanterelle filling sounds fantastic!

  5. I have a pound or so of paneer in my freezer and was just thinking of what I could do with it (that didn’t involve making an indian dish) when I spotted this. Of course, it’s much too hot to be making these now but in the fall, I’m all over this dish. I’ve saved the recipe on my hard drive until then. 🙂 I’ll be kneading by hand, by the way, as my food processor doesn’t knead.

    It’s all part of my great clear out the pantry/fridge/freezer/cupboards objective.

    By the way, I’m torn between blueberry ice cream and blueberry crumble with the 600 gms of frozen blueberries I found today in my freezer. What’s your suggestion? 🙂

    1. I have never had paneer in my life, but I remember you were saying the production process is similar. These dumplings are absoultely delicious, but the dough is quite thick and chewy (I love it!), so I hope you will like it in autumn. I’d be very curious to know your impressions. This dumpling version is one of the “love and hate” kind.
      Since it’s quite hot here, I would choose the ice-cream of course (and even a sorbet… more refreshing). I’m flattered that you ask my opinion! Thank you.

      1. Paneer is similar to curd cheese but not as tart/sour as you’ve mentioned, I believe, so I thought it would be suitable. I used it in my cheese pogacsa. The only pierogi my mom made at home was the plum version, which my Hungarian SIL called Szilvas Gomboc. They were good and my brother and I ate them as dessert though my parents considered them a main course.

        I value your opinion, Sissi. 🙂

        You’re right, sorbet would be more refreshing but I like the creamy texture in the versions with some dairy in it. The sugar syrup base only versions reminds me of a granita which is reduced to a ‘slushy’ in the corner convenience stores so it doesn’t quite seem as special to make it myself. I’m still not decided and as I still have 2 almost complete containers (2 cups each) of the mango-ginger ice cream in the freezer, there’s no hurry.

        1. Thank you for trusting me again! I’m maybe a bad advisor because I love sorbets 😉
          If paneer is not tart at all (is it close to ricotta in taste?), I don’t think it will be good for these dumplings… Maybe you could add some sour cream? The fantastic flavours combination here is the sweetish potato, the spicy pepper, the fried onion and the tart cheese. If there is nothing sour, the taste will have nothing to do. Then, I still have no idea how paneer tastes… but I don’t want you to work on your dumplings and obtain bad results.

          1. I think you’re a pretty good adviser. Even if we just trade ideas and alternate suggestions back and forth.

            RE: Blueberries

            Since your last post, I decided to make a blueberry ice cream but I’m using only 1% buttermilk as the dairy. No milk, no yogurt (I don’t want to go to the grocery store on a Sunday) and no whipping cream. I’ve cooked the blueberries and pureed them with my hand blender and now the mixture is cooling in a cold water bath before I refrigerate it. The mixture has to be as cool as possible before I combine it with the cold buttermilk and put it into the ice cream maker.

            I think the paneer is comparable to ricotta in taste. Maybe I can add some feta to it to give it a little tang. I’m sure I’ll come up with a good idea by then. 🙂

            1. I’m sure you will find a good replacement!
              Good luck with your blueberry ice-cream. I’m looking forward to read about it.

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