Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dumplings! A Family Recipe for Hungarian Rivilchas or Tarhonya

CC Image by @joefoodie 

Rivilchas might be a mouthful to say, but it's a mouthful worth having. This is a family recipe used for both everyday meals and special occasions.

My paternal grandmother's family brought this recipe with them when they emigrated from Hungary in 1903. I learned how to make these little egg-noodle dumplings when I was quite young, and I have included here the directions taught to me by my grandmother. It took me several hours of research to learn the true spelling of rivilchas because, in our family, we have always simply said what I know now as "rivil," pronounced [REE-vul]. When cooked, "rivil" dumplings are similar, though smaller and more dense than German spaetzle, and smaller than Hungarian nokedli.

Preparing rivilchas is a big job, so it's worth making a fairly large batch. My grandmother made up to six quarts at a time when she knew company was on the way! For practice, though, I recommend starting with a small batch, enough to make about four to six servings. I've included the measurements for this smaller batch size.

Hungarian Rivilchas Recipe

Until you are familiar and proficient preparing rivilchas, plan to spend at least one hour making the dough and preparing the dumplings.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash your hands and scrub under your nails.  This will get messy.
  2. Add 2 eggs and 1.5 measuring cups of flour to a large mixing bowl. Using a fork, stir to combine the eggs and flour. Mix until the dough is slightly dry to the touch, not too sticky.
  3. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand. Push the ball of dough down into the bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the dough and reshape the ball of dough. Pull it up the side of the bowl then push it down into the bowl again. Continue to knead the dough until it reaches a consistent texture, adding a little more flour at a time until it no longer sticks to your hands. Depending on the size of your eggs, you could use up to 1 cup of additional flour to form the dough.
  4. Place a piece of wax paper on a work surface. Using the thumbnail-sized holes on a box grater, grate the dough, using steady, downward pressure. Let the dumplings drop down through the grater onto the wax paper.
  5. Once a pile of dumplings accumulates on the paper, move the paper or grater and make another small pile. If the pile is too large, the rivilchas will stick together. If the dough does not move through the grater, but sticks to the surface, return dough to the mixing bowl and add more flour.
  6. In a 6-quart stockpot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add a small batch of rivilchas to the stockpot using a strainer or a slotted spoon. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the cooking water with a strainer or slotted spoon.

Using and Storing Rivilchas

You can use the rivilchas immediately in a soup, paprikash or goulash, or you can eat them plain, with butter, salt, pepper, paprika, or cheese.

Rivilchas can be frozen by letting the cooked amount dry, then placing them in a freezer bag and sucking out all of the air with a straw.

Whatever way you plan to use the rivilchas, you and your guests will not be disappointed. Try using these little egg-noodle dumplings the next time you make any pasta dish, and people will notice the tasty, homemade difference.

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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