Potato Knish Recipe. Jewish Knishes.

Knish, a Jewish sister of Russian pirozki and Chinese dumplings.

Some time ago I wrote a hub about Russian pirozhki, little individual sized pies. I was lucky that a fellow hubber OpinionDuck visited this hub and while commenting, mentioned knish, a Yiddish dish, resembling Russian pirozhki. This stirred my memories and made me wonder, why I didn’t make knishes (‘knishiki) for such a long time. After all, it is also my heritage cuisine.

Besides all this, knish is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes!


Different types of knishes, made by Rachel Edelman
Different types of knishes, made by Rachel Edelman | Source

Knish as a dish!

“Knish” (both “k” and “n” are pronounced) belongs to Jewish cuisine, or to be more particular, to Yiddish part. But most likely Jewish kitchen adopted knish from the cuisine of Ukrainian folks. The word "knish" has Ukrainian origin almost for sure, because "knish" means different things in Ukrainian language.

The Ukrainian name “Knysh” is used to name a small bun, with or without filling. Knysh may be just a plain bun with butter. Besides referring to food, "knysh" is also used to describe a short person.

In a Ukrainian riddle "knysh" indicates a moon (“The stove is full of coals and a knysh is in the middle”- night sky with stars and the moon)

Now, how did knish appear in America?

It is believed that as a dish “knish” arrived to America with emigrants from Russia and Ukraine in the earlier 1900’s. When people immigrate to a different country, they bring with them not only their luggage, but also their ways and traditions, including their cuisine. Living in immigration and embracing new country and new ways does not cancel the old ways. So, this is how knish arrived to America. 

Basically, knish is a sort of dumpling (here again we come to Chinese dumplings that appear to be ancestors of many world cuisine dishes).

Knishes are turnovers stuffed with different fillings. The dough for knishes has many variations. Very often the dough is made with flour and butter, or the knish dough is made of flour and mashed potatoes, and in the most traditional form it is just made entirely of mashed potatoes.

Knishes are made in different forms and shapes- as small round individually sized snacks, or square and flat in a size of a hamburger, or made like a long rolled stripe. It all depends how each cook prefers to make the knishes.

Knishes may be baked or fried. Knishes may be even frozen for future use. Knishes may be frozen after they are made, or for faster later use, knishes may be half baked and then frozen. 

In big American cities with a lot of Jewish population knishes are sold in bakeries and delis. The first knish bakery was founded in New York in 1910.

The word "Knish" is used as a nick-name to identify one of New York’s quarters. "Knish Alley” is a name for the Jewish Lower East Side, specifically Second Avenue.

Making the dough

Flour and butter
Flour and butter
Chop flour and butter till "sand" consistency.
Chop flour and butter till "sand" consistency.
Add one egg, lemon juice and water.
Add one egg, lemon juice and water.
Knead the dough until elastic and divide into 8 balls.
Knead the dough until elastic and divide into 8 balls.

Making knishes is fun

Though it is time consuming, as any good aged recipe, but the process of making knishes is very simple, not complicated and actually may be even a family fun.

I know that in many Chinese homes the entire household is gathered together to make dumplings.

The same with knishes.

You can make it a quality family time on some day.

So, to make a batch of knishes the way I make them, you’ll need:

For the dough:

  • 3,5 cups of Flour. I always use unbleached all purpose flour.
  • 1,5 stick of butter or margarine
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 dash of salt.

For the filling:

  • 1-1,5 lb potatoes
  • 1 big onion
  • Salt, pepper, dill weed (according to your taste)

Or you can use any leftover mashed potatoes! Knish is a great way to use your mashed potatoes leftovers!

  • To make a dough, put flour and butter into a bowl and "chop" it till "sand" consistency. Add an egg, lemon juice and water. Knead soft dough. Divide the dough into eight balls. Cool the dough in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
  • Make mashed potatoes the way you like, with butter or margarine. Chop one onion and fry it in vegetable oil. Add fried onion to the mashed potatoes. I love dill, so I always add dill weed into mashed potatoes. Or use the leftover mashed potatoes.
  • Make knishes as shown below.
  • Bake knishes in the oven preheated to 375-400 F for 25-35 minutes and until knishes are pink or brownish.
  • You may freeze knishes for later use. In this case bake knishes till half done (not pink-brown). Cool them, cover with a plastic clear film and freeze. When you need them, put them into preheated oven and bake until pink-brown.


Make knishes

Roll one ball of dough thin.
Roll one ball of dough thin.
Put mashed potatoes in the middle. Roll dough over the filling.
Put mashed potatoes in the middle. Roll dough over the filling.
With the help of a palm "cut" ("saw") pieces.
With the help of a palm "cut" ("saw") pieces.
Form pieces into little buns, put on a baking sheet and brush with raw egg or vegetable oil.
Form pieces into little buns, put on a baking sheet and brush with raw egg or vegetable oil.

Preheat oven to 375-400F. Bake knishes until slightly brown, from 25 to 35 minutes.

Enjoy knishes warm of cooled, as an appetizer, with soups, or as snacks.
Enjoy knishes warm of cooled, as an appetizer, with soups, or as snacks.

Another recipe for knishes

In other recipes mashed potatoes are used in dough too, to replace butter.

Dough:

  • 3 cup flour
  • 1/4 pound margarine (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 potato (peeled, cooked and mashed)

Filling is made the same- mashed potatoes. 

You can make knishes differently, in different way. Roll out each part of dough and cut into rectangles of 15 x 7 inches each. Spoon filling on the middle of each rectangle and fold over both outside parts of dough. 

You can make bite size knishes.

Cut the ball into four pieces
Cut the ball into four pieces
Roll quarter of the dough ball and cut the dough sheet into four pieces
Roll quarter of the dough ball and cut the dough sheet into four pieces
Put mashed potatoes on each piece and fold the edges.
Put mashed potatoes on each piece and fold the edges.
Yammi.
Yammi.

Making an individual long knish.

Roll the quarter of the dough ball thin, put mashed potato.
Roll the quarter of the dough ball thin, put mashed potato.
Roll the edges over mashed potato. Bake.
Roll the edges over mashed potato. Bake.

More by this Author


Comments 22 comments

creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 6 years ago from Maine

I love knish, I can't wait to try this. I hope it comes out good!


sjk6101983 profile image

sjk6101983 6 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

where's the button for "tasty?" this sounds yummy! :)


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

creativelycc, nice to meet you! Thank you for your comment. I love knish too, especially as an addition to chicken noodle soup.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Sarah, LOL. Thank you.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

I like your recipes. Knish is a good way to use leftover mashed potatoes.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

sheila, exactly! This is how I made my knishes today ;)


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 6 years ago from South Wales

These sound great. I love to experiment with pastry and dough. These I must try. I'll be following you ReuVera. Thanks.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

I adore potato knishes and have been known to travel far and wide to get a really good one. Thanks for the recipe.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

scarutaff, thank you and I follow you now too. I'm going to try your recipes! I welcome you to try my Russian and Jewish cuisine.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

BPop, thank you for stopping! Potato knishes are able to give comfort to your soul in this scary world. Just take a bite, close your eyes and you are in your granma's cozy house...


OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 6 years ago

ReuVera

This is an excellent hub, the history of Knish and the recipe. I grew up near Knish Alley and there was the Katz Deli that sold all kinds of great foods, including the Knish. I remember that in addition to potato filling they also had Kasha as a filling.

I however preferred the Coney Island Knish that was square and with a hard fried shell containing potatoes.

Do you have any knowledge of recipes on the Coney Island version.

By the way part of my heritage is Ukrainia.

Thanks

~:}


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi, OpinionDuck! Spasibo! As always, I like your opinions. My friends live on Coney Island, I am going to ask them about knish. My recipe (flour chopped with butter) also produces hard shell, it is so good to eat knish with chicken bullion!

My mother was born in Ukraine, in Kiev.


OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 6 years ago

Hi ReuVera

They used to sell these knishes at Nathans the hot dog place, but they don't anymore.

My great grandmother came to this country through Austria at around 1899, and she is the Ukrainian part of the family.

I like the Knish by itself.

Poka


Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 6 years ago from UK

This recipe for knish sounds delicious, are they usually served as part of a meal, or is a knish more of a snack?

I will be giving this recipe a try, thank you.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi, Alison, glad to see you! Like OpinionDuck, many people like knish as it is. I personally like knishes with my soup, for my son I serve it with any kind of meat I make. As an appetizer it goes with any dressing- ranch, ketchup...

I hope you'll like knishes.


5 years ago

My last name is knysh, people always make fun of me .


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

Z, it is not the worst thing in life. Just smile and say, something like "I know, I am delicious".


livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco

I really like knishes - especially the ones with potato and onion, as you made in your example - but I've never made them before. Thanks for the detailed instructions and pictures; they will make my first knish-making adventure a lot easier!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, livelonger. It's very easy to make knishes. They go well with soups.


Bernadette VanDeinse 4 years ago

Every year for Christmas I make Knishes for my step-dad who's from the city, because you can't get a decent one upstate. I've tried all sorts of dough recipes and this by far was the easiest to work with. It's soft, pliable, doesn't stick when you roll it out. It's fantastic. Thank you for sharing.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank YOU, Bernadette!


creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 3 years ago from Maine

So happy I found this recipe, I love knish's. They are delicious and good for you! I think I'll try the one with potato in the dough. I always wondered what the outside of a knish was made from. Now I know! Voted up and shared!

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