The best of cheap, Scottish street-eats from the comfort of your own home kitchen
In my episode titled “How the World Cooks Potatoes,” I was lucky enough to taste several potato-based dishes from around the world. The first dish I made was called potato kugel, an Ashkenazi Jewish dish that closely resembles a type of potato casserole. Potatoes, onions, flour, and eggs come together in a baked or steamed pudding. This dish was a crispy, creamy, and savory potato pancake dream! Incredibly simple to make yet satisfying to eat, potato kugels are an inspired way to make the most of what you have.
I was gifted this potato kugel recipe by Rezyl from New York City, whose family is Ashkenazi Jewish. Her ancestors migrated to the United States around 1900 from various Eastern European countries, including Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine. People of Ashkenazi descent created potato kugel with few ingredients; in addition to latkes and knishes, potato kugel is a dish that demonstrates human ingenuity and creativity using basic ingredients to produce delicious concoctions.
These recipes often originated from poverty-stricken groups without much food in the house, but they hold no shortage of flavor and later became beloved meals among Ashkenazi Jewish groups. Rezyl emphasizes the versatility of this starch-based dish, as it can be prepared sweet or savory. You can also make it your own by adding condiments of your choosing, and people throughout Eastern Europe now enjoy both classic and innovative versions of potato kugel.
Kugel dishes date back to Middle Ages. The word “kugel” comes from the German word for “ball,” since the initial shape of a kugel was spherical. Potatoes weren’t popular in Eastern Europe until the 19th century; shortly thereafter, people adapted this starch as a base for the kugel, and potato kugels were commonly served on the Sabbath or during Jewish holidays.
This incredibly satisfying and delicious dish can be enjoyed in any form, either hot from the oven or cold from a leftover container in the fridge. The salty, oniony casserole pairs well with ketchup, which balances out the primary black pepper spice. Potato kugel is a simple yet yummy addition to any dinner or party.
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