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Kugel (קוגעל)

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Potato kugel.png

Kugel is a baked Ashkenazi Jewish pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles (Lokshen kugel) or potatoes, though at times made of zucchini, apples, spinach, broccoli, cranberry, or sweet potato. It is usually served as a side dish on Shabbat, it being very popular in the Israeli cuisine.

The name of the dish comes from the German Kugel meaning "sphere, globe, ball"; thus the Yiddish name likely originated as a reference to the round, puffed-up shape of the original dishes. Nowadays, however, kugels are often baked in square pans. There is a common association of this word to the Hebrew k'iygul ("as a circle"), but this is a folk etymology.

The first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common in today's dessert dishes. In Poland, Jewish homemakers added raisins, cinnamon and sweet farmer's cheese to noodle kugel recipes. In the late 19th century, Jerusalemites combined caramelized sugar and black pepper in a noodle kugel known as "Jerusalem kugel," which is a commonly served at Shabbat kiddushes and is a popular side dish served with cholent during Shabbat lunch.

Savory kugel may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach or cheese.

Kugels are a mainstay of festive meals in Ashkenazi Jewish (Jews of Eastern European descent) homes, particularly on the Jewish Sabbath and other Jewish holidays or at a Tish. Some Hasidic Jews believe that eating kugel on the Jewish Sabbath brings special spiritual blessings, particularly if that kugel was served on the table of a Hasidic Rebbe.

While noodle kugel, potato kugel, and other variations are dishes served on Jewish holiday meals, matzo kugel is a common alternative served at Passover seders which is adjusted to meet passover kosher requirements.

A similar Belarusian dish is potato babka.

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References

Kugel, en.wikipedia.org

Top 10 Kugel Recipes, kosherfood.about.com

What is Kugel?, www.jewishrecipes.org