© Denzil Green
Matzo balls are small, round dumplings for soup. The dough is made from eggs, water, salt, pepper, matzo meal and schmaltz (chicken fat.)
You form the stiff dough into small balls or drop by the tablespoonful into the boiling water or soup. They generally end up very light and fluffy, though some people prefer to make theirs firmer and heavier.
They will sink into a bowl of soup, rather than floating in it.
Some recipes will use margarine instead of chicken fat. Some recipes have you cook them in water first and then add to soup; others have you cook them right in the soup. Generally recipes will have you refrigerate the dough overnight or at least an hour first before using. Chilling them first helps prevent their falling apart while cooking in the water or soup.
There are a zillion different recipes, tips and tricks. Some even involve using ginger ale instead of water in the dough to help keep them light. The only general agreement is that everyone’s grandmother’s were the best; and that most people have a sister-in-law who makes them hard enough to take out an opponent at 20 paces.
Matzo Balls made from whole wheat matzo meal can be quite heavy.
Matzo Meal and Matzo Ball mixes were first sold commercially, already ground and ready to use, by the Manischewitz Company in the early 1900s. Until that time, Matzo Balls were really only made at Passover. After that, because making them had just got a whole lot easier, they became a year round food item. In 1930, the Manischewitz issued a cookbook called “Tempting Kosher Dishes.” In it, they gave a recipe for Matzo Balls using their matzo meal; the recipe was called “feather balls, Alsatian style.”
Literature & Lore
“Isn’t there any other part of the matzo you can eat?” — Marilyn Monroe, on matzo balls.
In Yiddish, called “knaidelach”, which means “dumplings”. “Knadle” is the singular.
Nathan, Joan. New Year, New Dumpling . New York Times. 20 September 2006.