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Shared by Svetlana Davydov and her granddaughter Elena

Pelmeni (Beef Dumplings)

Yield: 6-8 servingsTime: 1 h active + 2 h inactive

Shared by Svetlana Davydov and her granddaughter Elena

Pelmeni dumplings with a drizzle of olive oil, atop bright orange tablecloth.
Photographer: Penny De Los Santos. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.

Pelmeni (Beef Dumplings)

Yield: 6-8 servingsTime: 1 h active + 2 h inactive

Family Journey

Tashkent, UzbekistanQueens, New York City
Long Island, NY

Born in Uzbekistan, Bukharian cook Svetlana Davydov’s cooking is a blend of Uzbek recipes, those that were eaten across the former Soviet Union, and ones that are uniquely Buhkarian. Pelmeni, which are sometimes referred to as Russian ravioli, fall into the second camp — they’re enjoyed in many former Soviet states. 

They take time and practice to make well, but once you’ve mastered the technique, you can make a large batch with friends and family and freeze them. In places where the winters are long like Siberia, they were historically frozen in snow and kept outside during the winter to be boiled up for dinner. But a modern freezer works just as well. After shaping the pelmeni, place them on a plate in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make sure they will hold their shape and not stick together. Then transfer the frozen pelmeni into a large container or bag. They will hold in the freezer for up to 1 month. To defrost them, put the pelmeni directly into a pot of boiling water and cook.

This recipe was shared by Svetlana and her granddaughter Elena. Read more about their family in "Pelmeni, Samsa, and More Uzbek Recipes From a Bukharian Grandmother" and try their recipes for plov (rice pilaf), manti (Uzbek dumplings), and samsa (savory pastries).


For the dough

  • 1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ egg, beaten
  • ½ cup water, lukewarm

For the filling

  • ½ pound ground beef chuck
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, grated or finely ground in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

For serving

  • White vinegar
Cooking ProjectsMain CoursesMeat Eastern EuropeMiddle East


  • Step 1

    Make the dough: Stir the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and half of the water; using a wooden spoon or your hands mix well. Add the remaining water and mix until a dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and homogenous. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for at least 2 hours. 

  • Step 2

    Make the filling: Mix the beef, onion, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl until the ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside.

  • Step 3

    Prepare the dough: Place the dough on a heavily floured surface. Knead the dough until it becomes pliable and less sticky, about 2-4 minutes. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a thin circle that is 15 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour and fold the top edge over the bottom to create a semi circle and then fold the semi circle into a quarter of a circle. Let it rest under plastic wrap for 5 minutes.

  • Step 4

    Unfold the dough back into a circle and sprinkle it with flour. Use the rolling pin to roll out the dough as thinly as you can until the circle has doubled in size. Sprinkle the dough with flour again. Shape the dough into an accordion that is 1½ inch deep. You can do this by folding the dough back and forth over itself horizontally, in layers that are 2 inches in depth. Use a sharp knife to cut the layered piece of dough crosswise in 2 inch pieces. Unfold each piece into long rectangular strips and horizontally layer them on top of each other. Use a sharp knife to cut the long rectangular pile of dough into 2 inch pieces crosswise, to create squares. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying.

  • Step 5

    Fill and shape the dough: Place 1 teaspoon of the beef filling into the center of a piece of dough. Take the top edge of the square farthest from you and fold it over towards you, creating a triangle, and just cover the filling, leaving a ¼ inch border of dough on the bottom of the piece of dough. Use your fingers to pinch and seal the dough over the filling. Pick up the pelmeni, holding each bottom corner of the dough with your thumbs and pointer fingers. With one of your middle fingers, press in the center of the meat-filled dumpling and fold one edge of dough over the other with your thumbs. Seal these two edges together tightly to create the pelmeni’s signature shape, a ring shaped dumpling with a pouch on the bottom. Repeat filling and shaping the rest of the pelmeni.

  • Step 6

    Freeze pelmeni on a plate if making for later and after 20 minutes, transfer to a freezer bag. To eat immediately, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place all the pelmeni into the pot and boil for 3-4 minutes until they float to the top and are cooked through.

  • Step 7

    Serve hot and lightly drizzle with white vinegar.