|Alternative names||kneydl (frequently also transliterated as knaidel or kneidel)|
|Region or state||Ashkenazi Jewish areas of Central and Eastern Europe, Israel and the Jewish Diaspora|
|Serving temperature||temperature at which broth simmers|
|Main ingredients||matzah meal, egg, water, oil or schmaltz or margarine|
|Cookbook: Matzo ball Media: Matzo ball|
Matzah balls (Yiddish: קניידלעך kneydlekh pl., singular קניידל kneydl; with numerous other transliterations) or matzo balls are an Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumpling made from a mixture of matzah meal, eggs, water, and a fat, such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat. Matzah balls are traditionally served in chicken soup. For some they are a staple food on Passover.
As legend goes, the Jews did not have time to wait for the bread to leaven when fleeing Egypt hence they only consumed Matzo, which is a special unleavened bread. During Passover it is eaten as a flat, cracker-like bread or used in dishes as breadcrumbs and in the traditional matzo ball soup.
Schmaltz (chicken fat) imparts a distinctive flavor, but many modern cooks prefer vegetable oils or margarine. The balls are dropped into a pot of salted boiling water or chicken soup, then the heat turned down to a simmer and a lid placed on the pot. The balls swell during the cooking time of approximately 30 minutes.
The texture of matzah balls may be light or dense, depending on the recipe and the skill of the cook. Enthusiasts classify matzah balls as "floaters" or "sinkers".
Although official transliterations, done by the YIVO Institute, of Yiddish words into English exist, many transliterations are commonly performed on a nonstandard basis. Alternate transliterations of the Yiddish term for matzah ball, in the singular, include: knaidl, knaidel, kneidl, and kneidel. Transliterations in the plural include: knaidels, knaidlach, knaidelach, kneidels, kneidlach, kneidelach, kneydls, kneydels, and kneydlach.
Spelling bee controversy
The various transliterations of the term gave rise to minor controversy in June 2013, when it was the winning word in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Thirteen-year-old Arvind Mahankali of New York spelled "knaidel" correctly in accordance with Webster's Third New International Dictionary, the official dictionary of the Bee, to become the champion. However, there was controversy whether that was indeed the definitive spelling of the term, with others preferring "knaydel", "kneydel", "knadel", or "kneidel".
In 2010, the world's largest matzah ball was prepared by Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s New York Delicatessen, located in Tucson, Arizona. He created a 426-pound (193 kg) matzah ball for New York's Jewish Food Festival. The ingredients were 125 pounds (57 kg) of matzah meal, 25 pounds (11 kg) of schmaltz, over 1,000 eggs and 20 pounds (9 kg) of potato starch. This broke the previous record set by Chef Anthony Sylvestri of Noah's Ark Deli to raise awareness for a charity basketball game, which weighed 267 pounds (121 kg) and was 29.2 inches (74 cm) long and was made from "1000 eggs, 80 pounds of margarine, 200 pounds of matzah meal, and 20 pounds of chicken base".
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- Matzo ball history has been made
- World's biggest matzo ball unveiled in NYC: 267-pound ball gobbled up by hungry lower East Siders
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