On my last day in Ukraine I got to help out making a family recipe. A big deal considering I wasn’t allowed to lift a finger the entire week, or else I’d get nagged and told to sit down. And was shortly fed thereafter. Good times.
Feeling old cravings from being at home after so long, Nikita’s mom started begging her mom to make one of her favorite dishes from childhood. A fried pastry called placindi.
Dumplings and stuffed pastries are a Ukrainian staple, and really, an ancient food seen in cultures all over the world. Placindi are actually of Moldovan origin, and are almost like stuffed pastries with their flat shape.
The flavor is mild, earthy and vaguely spicy from all the onions. One of the best things about them is both the crunchiness and chewiness of the fried dough. You can eat them with sour cream if you like, but they’re just as good without. We stuffed ours with herbs, but cheese (sweet or not), meat and cabbage are also popular varieties.
Here’s a Ukrainian grandmother’s homemade placindi recipe. Enjoy!
Placindi Recipe, a Ukrainian take on a Moldovan Classic
1 cups chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups flour
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
An additional 1/2 cup of vegetable oil for frying
The recipe is simple but the key for these ingredients is freshness. You’re going to be deep frying these, you want to make sure your onions and herbs are as fresh as possible. Since we were in Ukraine in the summer time, everything was plucked from the backyard garden, and consumed less than an hour later- one of the many benefits of growing your own vegetables.
1. Start by chopping the onions into small rounds. Finely chop the dill and parsley. Set aside.
2. Mix 3 cups of flour with 1 cup of warm water and 1 egg until well blended and sticky. Roll into a single, large ball.
The dough is very important and has to be kneaded for some time before being rolled out. Dust your work space with flour and transfer the ball of dough to the flat surface. Begin slowly kneading the dough with firm pushes, turn over to fold into itself once its gotten too flat.
The idea is to knead until the dough is a smooth consistency and free of air bubbles. You can check this by kneading it into a ball, cutting it in half with a knife and looking for little pockmarks on the insides, traces of tiny air pockets within the dough.
3. Once your dough is free of these, you can begin rolling it out into the shapes you’ll need for your placindi. Start by rolling your dough into a long log about 1 1/2 inches in thickness. Use a knife to cut the log into chunks about 2 inches long.
Take each piece and pat it down into a flattened sphere like so:
Since these dumplings have a flat shape and are folded over rather than pinched together at the ends, you’ll to roll out need several circles of dough about 4 inches in diameter.
Roll your dough out into a large flat piece and begin cutting your pieces. You can throw your scraps back into the mix to get your dough pieces big enough, just be sure to knead well to remove air pockets. Once you’ve got enough, lay out the larger pieces on your work area.
4. Take your chopped onions and herbs and add the other egg to the mixture. Stirring until blended. The mixture should be sticky.
5. Spoon out the onion and herb mixture onto the larger pieces of dough. Start with a spoonful in the middle of the dough, the pat it down with the back of the spoon so it’s not too tall. Put an even amount across each piece of dough.
6. Lay another of your flat circles over the top of the onion and herb mixture, aligning the edges with the dough on the bottom. Carefully take the edges of the bottom piece and fold it over the top piece. Do this with each side to lock in the filling. Be sure to fold over the corners as well.
7. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once a drop of water sizzles on the oil, you’re ready to fry your placindi.
8. Fry them one at a time. Place one placindi into the oil and fry on one side for about 5-7 minutes. Using a spatula or tongs, carefully flip over and fry the other side for 5 more minutes. Remove promptly and drain on a plate with paper towels.
Do this with each placindi.
Allow them to cool for a few minutes before digging in.
These can be eaten with sour cream or another savory sauce, but are just as good eaten alone with a cup of hot tea.
Enjoy this savory, summery dish of placindi!