Sunday, September 17, 2006


Kugel is a traditional Jewish dessert or side dish. The word is Yiddish for ball, but it is sometimes translated as pudding or casserole, and related to the German Gugelhupf.

also see: Kugel Recipes

Made from bread and flour, the first kugels were plain, and salty rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, their flavor and popularity improved when cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common for today's dishes.

In the 17th century, sugar was introduced, giving home cooks the option of serving it as a side dish or dessert. In Poland, Jewish women sprinkled raisins and cinnamon into recipes. Hungarians took the dessert concept further with a hefty helping of sugar and some sour cream.

While less renowned than their sweeter cousins, savory kugels have always existed. Early noodle recipes called for onions and salt and were tasty at room temperature. Over the centuries, inspired cooks have skipped the noodles, substituting potatoes,
Matzah, carrots, zucchini, spinach or cheese.

Today many people crown casseroles with corn flakes, graham cracker crumbs, ground gingersnaps or caramelized sugar. Inspired cooks may layer the dish with sliced pineapples or apricot jam.

In 1950, the Bundt pan was developed for cooking kugel, though it eventually became known as a pan used for a variety of other cakes.
Bundt pan inventor H. David Dalquist dies

Amongst South African Jews, the word "kugel" came to be used by the elder generation as a scornful term for a young Jewish woman who forsook traditional Jewish values and strove to assimilate into gentile high society becoming overly materialistic and excessively groomed. The women thus described made light of the term and it has since become an amusing rather than derogatory slang term in South African English for a materialistic young woman. As the term originated from Jewish cuisine, the word "bagel", another term from Jewish cuisine, has been used by some to denote the male counterpart of a "kugel".

Kugel (Pronounced koo-gel or ki-gel)