Barak (Fried or Boiled Dumplings)

published Dec 29, 2021
at the table
Barak (Fried or Boiled Dumplings) Recipe

These beef-filled Uzbek dumplings can be enjoyed fried as an appetizer or boiled for a main dish.

Serves4 to 10

Makesabout 50 dumplings

Prep1 hour 15 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Uzbek dumplings
Credit: Paul Crispin Quitoriano

Barak are Uzbek dumplings. Barak is the name of the Samarkandian version of Uzbek dumplings. In different parts of Uzbekistan, this dish has different names. In Tashkent the name of this dish is chuchvara, in Bukhara the name of this dish is dushpara, and in Samarkand the name is barak. Barak means prosperity. Barak means blessing. 

We have two ways of cooking folded barak: frying or boiling. Fried barak we serve as an appetizer. In the East, everything has its meaning. At weddings, they serve fried barak sprinkled with the sugar, which means, “to wish a happy life to the young couple.” The other way of cooking barak is boiling it. 

Boiled barak is served as a main dish. When we boil it, we serve it with butter, as I do in my classes with the League of Kitchens, or if you don’t like butter you can use a little bit of oil. There are several ways to top boiled barak. You can serve it with fried onion on top and sprinkle it with ground black pepper or cayenne pepper (up to your taste). You can serve it with tomato-onion sauce and again sprinkle it with ground black pepper. You can serve it with chaka, which is a kind of labneh, or you can serve it with sour cream like I do and like we do in my mom’s family. This is my mom’s recipe and so I cook everything according to the way she did it. In the family of my husband, my mother-in-law usually served barak with chaka and tomato-onion sauce and then sprinkled everything with ground black pepper. There are different ways to eat barak, and you can try all the ways; everything is up to you.

Credit: Paul Crispin Quitoriano

We have different kinds of barak and the shape of the barak depends on the filling that you use. The barak that we do in my classes is regular style (with meat and onion) and the name is simply barak. If the filling is butternut squash or pumpkin with onion, it will be kadubarak and the shape will be different. If you fill the barak with greens, it will be baraki alafi. If you add a lot of mint to the meat filling, it will be pudina barak. People usually cook this kind of barak in the springtime. If you make the filling with eggs, it will be tukhum barak. Now, modern people also make barak with dried tomatoes and with mashed potato mixed with onion. There are lots of different kinds of barak you can try. 

I think almost all women or girls in our country can make and roll out the dough very well because they learn it from childhood. I learned from my mom. My mom was such a beautiful woman. She was a very kind woman, very brave. She was a doctor as I was. She was an allergist. She had a PhD and was famous in Uzbekistan and saved a lot of lives. She helped a lot of people. She was very busy all the time, but when she was home, there was an incredible smell everywhere and we knew we would have something delicious in the evening. I think that in almost every family in Uzbekistan, they have their own recipe for the barak dough and filling and this is exactly the recipe of my mom. It is very simple and it is very delicious. 

Barak (Fried or Boiled Dumplings) Recipe

These beef-filled Uzbek dumplings can be enjoyed fried as an appetizer or boiled for a main dish.

Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes about 50 dumplings

Serves 4 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1/2 cup

    water, plus more as needed

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 tablespoon

    neutral oil, such as sunflower

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting

For the filling:

  • 1

    medium white onion

  • 8 ounces

    ground beef

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt

Option 1: Frying

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups

    neutral oil, such as sunflower, for deep frying

  • Granulated sugar, for serving

Option 2: Boiling

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    water, plus more for boiling

  • Sour cream and freshly ground black pepper, for serving

Instructions

Make the dough:

  1. Place 1/2 cup water and 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt in a small bowl and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Add 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon neutral oil and whisk until combined.

  2. Place 2 cups all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Add the egg mixture and mix, using your hands and both a pinching motion and kneading with your knuckles, until the dough comes together. The dough should be smooth and not sticky. Add a few drops of water if the dough is too dry or sprinkle with a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.

  3. Halve the dough and form each portion into a ball. Place the dough balls on a plate, cover with another plate or plastic wrap, and set aside to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling.

Make the filling:

  1. Coarsely chop 1 medium white onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and add to a mini or small food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process the onion into a purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Remove and discard any large pieces that didn’t get pureed.

  2. Transfer the puréed onion (about 1/2 cup) into a medium bowl. Add 8 ounces ground beef and 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt to the beef and mix by hand until combined.

Assemble the dumplings:

  1. Lightly flour a work surface. Place one ball of dough on the work surface and sprinkle lightly with flour. Press into the dough with your knuckles. Give the dough a half turn and press again. Repeat for two more turns. The round will be about 1/3-inch thick and 8-inches wide.

  2. Sprinkle with a little more flour and lightly roll with a rolling pin, not pressing down on the dough and turning the dough a quarter turn after every few rolls, into a very thin 20-inch round.

  3. Use the rolling pin to fold the dough over on itself like a ribbon into a 3-inch wide stack. Cut crosswise into 3-inch sections. Unfold each section to reveal long strips, then stack the strips on top of each other. Cut off the ragged ends, and then cut the strips crosswise into 3-inch squares.

  4. Stuff and fold 1 dough square at a time: Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the square. Fold in half from the bottom up to create a rectangle with a long side closer to you and press to seal.

  5. Hold each side of the dumpling between your thumb and forefinger. Move your right thumb under the right side of the wrapper, push your middle right finger up against the filling, and pull and fold that side of the wrapper down toward the bottom corner, pinching it together. Repeat on the left side, pinching the lower corner into where you pinched the right side. The finished dumpling will be round and plump where the filling is and flat where the wrapper is pinched together. (Here’s a video.) Place on a baking sheet dusted with flour and refrigerate up to 1 hour before cooking.

  6. Repeat rolling out and filling the second portion of dough, rerolling the scraps as needed, until you run out of filling or wrappers, whichever comes first.

Option 1: Fry the dumplings

  1. Heat 1 1/2 cups neutral oil in a 10-inch high-sided skillet (or 2 cups in a 12-inch high-sided skillet) over medium-high heat until 350ºF. Frying in batches of 10 (for a 10-inch pan) or 15 (for a 12-inch pan), add the dumplings to the hot oil and fry until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip with a slotted spoon (do not use tongs) and cook fry until browned on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes more.

  2. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil. Transfer to a serving plate, lightly sprinkle with granulated sugar, and eat immediately.

Option 2: Boil the dumplings

  1. Place 1 tablespoon unsalted butter on a serving plate and let sit at room temperature until softened. Spread the butter over the plate. Fill a large saucepan with water, add 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

  2. Add half the dumplings to the boiling water. When they float to the top, after about 1 1/2 minutes, add 1 cup water and bring back to a boil. When the dumplings float again, about another 1 1/2 minutes, they are ready. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings onto the serving plate, dollop with sour cream, and garnish with ground black pepper.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The barak can be filled and refrigerated uncooked for up to 1 hour.

Storage: The barak are best eaten immediately, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.