If you ask me about my mom’s Chinese home cooking, one food jumps to my mind: dumplings. I remember trying to fold the wrappers with her as a kid and invariably letting the half the filling spill out. I’d also insist on making a few “meatless dumplings” for myself while I was at it (aka folded and cooked plain dumpling wrappers). That is not Chinese home cooking; that is called a love of carbs.

However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize the world of dumplings extends far beyond my mother’s recipe and even the offerings of our local Chinese restaurant. In fact, most every culture has dumplings!

In light of this glorious epiphany I’m about to show you not one, not two, but SIX dumplings from around the world! Of course, there are hundreds—nay, thousands—of dumplings out there, so consider this an introductory course.

Sit back, relax, and bring on the dumplings!

Xiao Long Bao (China)

xiao long bao
Xiao long bao

My personal favorite! Xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are Chinese dumplings particularly associated with Shanghai. They traditionally consist of a simple flour-and-water wrapper filled with pork and a meat-based broth, which is often gelatinized for easy filling. Once assembled they’re steamed in a xiaolong, or bamboo steamer. The gelatinized broth turns to liquid as it cooks, so when you bite a dumpling yummy, yummy soup spills into your mouth!

Momo (South Asia)

nepalese momo
A plate of momo in Nepal

Momo are the wanderers of the dumpling world. They most likely originated in Tibet, were reworked in Nepal, and were later adapted in the Himalayan regions of Northern India. Each community prepares momo differently, from Tibetan yak meat momo to Indian vegetarian momo. Some momo are shaped like crescents; some are pan-fried instead of steamed; some are served with chutney. The variety is endless, but all good momo have at least one thing in common: mouth-watering deliciousness!

Shish Barak (Middle East)


shish barak
Shish barak

Shish barak is an Arabic dish perhaps most strongly tied to Lebanon. It consists of tiny meat-filled dumplings cooked in a yogurt stew. The dumplings are often filled with lamb meat and pine nuts, but variations (such as beef-filled dumplings) do exist. Cooking shish barak can be time-intensive—that’s a lot of tiny dumplings to fold—but I bet all that work pays off when you have a steaming hot bowl of goodness in front of you!

Madombi (Botswana)

Madombi in a vegetable stew

Madombi, a national favorite in Botswana, are simple flour dumplings that are boiled and eaten with soups and stews. They are unfilled, much like the dumplings in American chicken and dumplings, and are often slightly sweet. Madombi can vary in size, but they’re usually large– around the size of a fist. Hearty, warm, and satisfying, it’s no wonder they hold such high standing in Motswana comfort food!

Palt (Sweden)


Palt is a Swedish meat-filled potato dumpling. It must be made with raw potatoes; if made with pre-boiled potatoes, it is no longer palt, but a dish called kroppkakor. The dumplings are filled with chopped pork or bacon and are traditionally served with butter and lingonberry preserves. Palt is characteristic of northern Sweden, but I think it’s time for southern Sweden (and the rest of the globe) to join the party; what could be better than bacon-filled potato balls?

Pantrucas (Chile)


Chilean pantrucas are flour dumplings that are served in broth-based soup. In old times the soup stock was made with the carcass of a roast turkey, but nowadays most home cooks use whatever they have on hand (because honestly, how often does one eat a whole roast turkey?). The dumplings are formed by rolling the dough into a sheet and cutting it into strips. Pantrucas kind of straddle the line between dumpling and noodle, but I’m including them anyway because they sound so darn tasty!

And there you have it! Six dumplings, all from different cultures, all delicious. If your mouth is watering like mine right now, I encourage you to do a little dumpling sleuthing of your own! You might just discover a new favorite hiding on the other side of the world šŸ™‚