What's a Knaidel?

Photo: onlinepastrychef/ flickr.

When 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali was presented with word "knaidel" for the title at the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee, many of us were left wondering: what is this mysterious “small mass of leavened dough cooked by boiling or steaming,” as described by the moderator?

Sure we know what "glossophagine," "trichocercous," "thonnier," "chalumeau" and other words from the evening meant, but "knaidel"?

(Okay, so maybe we had to look those up too.)

The Oxford Dictionary defines knaidel as “a type of dumpling eaten especially in Jewish households during Passover.” It is of Yiddish origin, and its plural is “knaidlach.”

Basically, it’s another word for a matzo ball — a mix of matzo meal, egg, oil and salt, which is generally served in chicken soup.

If you’re compelled to celebrate Arvind’s victory with a night of knaidel, look no further than a post called The Knaidel Quest from the blog Sabbath Meals. There you will find a recipe for knaidel from the 1930 cookbook, “Tempting Kosher Dishes Prepared from World Famous Manischewitz's Matzo Products,” written by one Miss F.O. Gahr, B.S., domestic science expert and graduate in institutional management.

And if you missed Arvind earning the crown (and the $30,000 purse that goes along with spelling bee fame and fortune), watch below. Upon finishing third in 2011 and 2012 , Arvind saved the day with “knaidel.”