It's a love affair that knows no bounds. Dumplings have universal appeal, and for good reason: they're one-handed flavour bombs wrapped in a doughy shell that are often easy on the purse pocket, come in a wide range of tasty fillings, and often land with a side history lesson.
Most countries lay claim to a dumpling of sorts, a fact the folks behind Melbourne's Momo Fest know too well. In their launch year, they were tipping 2,000 visitors would come along to gorge on their Nepalese dumplings, but they got 8,000 hungry punters instead.
"All the vendors sold out by 5 pm," says Raju Shakya, creative director of Solangture, who is behind the festival.
"This year, we got 20,000-plus people, so we decided to extend Momo Fest and include dumplings from around the world, not just Nepalese dumplings," Shakya tells SBS Food.
The inaugural Melbourne International Dumpling Festival, happening at the Queen Victoria Markets on Monday 4 November, invites visitors to travel the world by dumplings. They'll be able to sample authentic Tibetan momos from Wild Yak, Cambodian dumplings by Flamin' Skewers, Din Tai Fung's juicy xiao long bao, gyoza by Collingwood's Chotto Motto, plus Ukrainian, Italian and Indian dumplings, to name but a few.
A few non-dumpling stalls are also setting up like Cha Time, Desi Kothi Ice-Cream, as well as fairy floss, coffee and doughnut stands. Brick Lane Brewing Co will be serving up a balancing act of refreshments. But for the most parts, it's all about the dumplings.
Ettore Donnaloia is excited to show off his grandmother's prized panzerotti recipe at this year's festival. The recipe for the hand-rolled and fried Puglia-style panzerotti was passed down to his mother, but she didn't part with it easily.
"It took me one year [to convince] my mum to tell me the recipe," Donnaloia tells SBS Food. "She preferred to just make the dough for me. Then my father said 'you have to tell him, otherwise he won't have a business anymore!'"
The Il Panzerotto mother-and-son team (with the occasional cameo by nonna Elisabetta) has been appearing at farmer's markets and events over the past three years, introducing Melburnians to the crisp, deep-fried half-moons stuffed with everything from burrata, oregano and red sauce, to chicken, white wine and rosemary. They also make a bolognese version, a vegan one, and a couple of sweet options including apple and cinnamon, and Nutella.
"It took me one year [to convince] my mum to tell me the recipe. She preferred to just make the dough for me. Then my father said 'you have to tell him, otherwise he won't have a business anymore!'"
Donnaloia says Puglia's panzerotti are similar to the fried calzone found elsewhere in Italy, albeit gooier, and with a few dough quirks.
"Panzerotti doesn't use a pizza dough, and we use a bread roller to stretch the dough. The entire process is done fresh on the spot."
Sure, the term 'dumpling' is a bit of a stretch in the panzerotti's case, but who are we to call impostor on a fellow stuffed, dough-encased delight?
Dominika Sikorska, the owner of the Polish catering company and food truck, Pierogi Pierogi, will be pan-frying her business' namesake Polish dumplings at the International Dumpling Festival.
Often emerging at celebrations like Christmas and Easter, Sikorska says the process of making the pierogi is as pivotal as the feast that ensues.
"This beautifully choreographed routine is always done with family around holidays and major feasts, and is always punctuated with laughter, tears, vodka and overeating," she tells SBS Food.
Sikorska will be making her popular ruskie (creamy potato and farm cheese-filled) pierogi, plus their vegan, umami-packed kapusta (minced mushroom and sauerkraut) dumplings.
"And last but not least, our mieso, made with South Gippsland organic beef, slow-cooked lovingly for 12 hours with root vegetables. It is hearty and impossible to stop at just one."
Melbourne International Dumpling Festival
Queen Victoria Markets
Monday 4 November, 12 pm – 10 pm
Indulgent and highly addictive, these fried dumplings are a staple of the Caribbean plate – warm and crunchy, yet soft in the middle. They’re also one of our favourite things to eat all day, every day, with everything.
Dumplings are the ultimate crowd-pleaser! This recipe uses a combination of pork, beef and tofu with aromatics, making them juicy and rich, yet light.
This Central Asian version of tortellini or keplach is called dushpera. They're small dumplings served in chicken stock with lemon, lots of fresh herbs, chickpeas and dried sour cherries – wonderful!
Expand your dumpling repertoire with these soft and flavourful morsels. A little more challenging to make, they're worth the effort - and are gluten-free!
These pork and mushroom dumplings are a great way to begin your home-made dumpling journey if you're not confident in your folding technique.
Crispy pierogi are not a common dumpling, but they are a great alternative to uszka with clear red borscht and also work well with zurek. You should eat these on the side of soups, so that they retain their crunchy consistency. Baked pierogi require a slightly different dough, similar to that of the famous Russian kulebiak, which is just one massive ornately decorated dumpling.
These pot-stickers are inspired by xiao long bao, which hide a soup-like liquid in their handmade wrappers. We’ve used store-bought gow gee wrappers for this recipe.