Fall is in the air. For some parts of the country, winter will be here before we’re ready. Time to think about comfort foods and holiday menus. One of my favorite recipes is my Mother’s Noodle Kugel. Some of you may not have experienced the deliciousness and versatility of this dish. Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole most commonly made from egg noodles or potato. It is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish, often served on Shabbat and special holidays. I make it all year round as many of my girlfriends do!
Just a Little History
Kugel goes back more than 800 years. The first kugels were made from bread and were savory rather than sweet. Then cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency common in today’s dessert dishes. In Poland, Jewish homemakers added raisins, cinnamon and sweet curd cheese to noodle kugel recipes.
In Romania, this dish is called Budinca de macaroane (“macaroni pudding”) or Baba acolo. It is made with or without cheese, but almost always includes raisins. In Transylvania, especially in the Hungarian-speaking regions, a very similar dish is called Vargabéles.
Savory kugel may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach, or cheese.
A similar traditional Belarusian dish is potato babka.
In Lithuania, this dish is called Kugelis. It is a baked potato pudding and it is a traditional Lithuanian dish. The main ingredients are potatoes, onions and eggs. It may be spiced with salt, black pepper, bay leaves, and/or marjoram.
Whatever type of kugel you might add to your table, this recipe will give you a great start!