Bread Project: Csiga Noodles

21 02 2011

This past week was an extra special Bread Project because my grandma Anne was sharing her recipe for Hungarian csiga noodles. Anne makes bread, lots of it, I have never had anything but homemade bread at her house my entire life (all 29 years :)). She makes the most amazing white and whole wheat bread the old fashion way. Kneading, letting it rise, kneading it again. It has a crusty outside and is best toasted in her toaster oven. It takes too long to make the bread with the Bread Project but sharing flour related recipes with the other members is just as important. The other thing that grandma has always made from scratch is noodles, a few different kinds, matched for the dish they are reserved for.

Csiga noodles, or csigateszta, are one of the finest of them all. Csiga (pronounced chee-ga) are a basic egg noodle, but with a very unique shape, a ridged spiral. Csiga in Hungarian means ‘snail’ and the csiga noodle has been traditionally linked to fertility. I am guessing that is the snail analogy??? Small squares of finely rolled dough are rolled into spirals on a specially grooved csiga board that are made from wood or even bamboo. Hungarian women roll csiga together or on their own, to add to chicken soup. This chicken csiga noodle soup is especially made for weddings. When doing research on csiga I found a few church and Hungarian groups in North America that meet weekly to make csiga. My grandma is a csiga-making-machine, but it takes a lot to feed a family, never mind a wedding! Growing up this is one of the many jobs we had in the kitchen as kids, rolling csiga. I hadn’t done it in many years, but it only took me a few minutes to get the hang of it again. One of the csiga boards that grandma has is over 100 years old, compared to the newest addition in her collection, ones that Tony made for her.

Noodle making is a lost art. Like pasta, it is so easy to make, inexpensive and goes a long way. While making csiga we talked about this and how far a dollar can go when it comes to food. A couple of eggs, cups of flour, water and a few extra moments can make noodles to feed an entire family. We spend so much on a package of noodles, literally and the expense and industry that goes into that package of noodles. I know it is a time thing but if we think about how much time we don’t spend preparing the most important part of our day, sustenance, it makes you realize how our priorities have shifted over the years. It is inevitable that food prices, quality and access will become an issue  in years to come. Peak oil, climate change etc will have an impact. Projects like this are critical to passing on a connection to our food to generations to come. Sounds dooms day I know. In the least, thinking about food and the ‘slow food movement’ that is making its way to mainstream, has so much benefit, to ourselves, our communities and will be a critical part of our healthful existence and survivability.

2 eggs
2-3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp water
pinch salt

  • In a bowl mix the eggs, water and salt with small parts of the flour until the dough is a soft but firm texture, not sticky. There might be flour left over. By using egg it keeps the dough together, if only water was used the noodles would fall apart in the water
  • Knead the dough for 15 min
  • Let the dough sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, covered
  • Pinch off a golf ball size piece of the dough, flatten out by hand into a thick disc, but no wider than what can fit into the noodle roller
  • Using the noodle roller, roll it thin, with each roll adjust the roller to be a bit thinner, until the dough is thin, but not translucent and flimsy. If it feels sticky, then wipe a small amount of flour on either side of the dough before rolling
  • Cut into 1.5 cm strips and then 1.5 cm squares
  • Using a csiga board, roll each square using the csiga stick, going from one corner of the square to the other, ensuring the end is pressed into the noodle well, or they will unravel in the water when boiling
  • Dry the csiga well, over night, by leaving them on a cloth. They will shrink when dry. Csiga will keep in a container for months
  • The same dough can be rolled through the roller to make longer thin or thicker soup noodles. As well, the same dough is rolled out thin and cut into a 1.5 cm diamonds and even smaller squares for different types of soups.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat

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10 responses

2 05 2011
Jen

I cannot thank you enough for having this recipe! I was raised with csiga noodles! My great grandmother came to the states from Hungary at age 19 and lived to be 93. Her annual Christmas gift to everyone was a mason jar filled with csiga noodles. They were life gold to my mom! I would sneak a few every so often and eat them raw. When they were cooked though, they were out of this world! Because of you, I can now make the noodles! No one had the recipe. Thank you!!! I have all the tools and now I have the recipe! Be well!!

2 05 2011
Natalie

Jen. I was so excited to see your comment today! Your comment is the reason why I continue to share stories of food, culture and the humanity in it. Please let me know how the csiga noodle making goes. My best, Nat

7 01 2012
Debbie

My husband was Hungarian and when we visited family, the soup and csiga (csiga-biga as we called them) was the highlight of the meal. It has been a very long time since I have had some good Hungarian soup and csiga noodles.
I recently found, what I was told was, a csiga board at an anitque store. There was no stick with it. So I have questions.
1) is the stick tapered at the end?
2) is the goal to roll the noodles on an angle across the grooves? I only have your photo to go by on this.
I’d so love to give this a try.

7 01 2012
Natalie

Debbie thanks for your comment and happy that this might help you get your csiga-biga fix 🙂 Yes, the stick is a bit tapered, not to a hard point though. My grandma taught me to roll them at an angle. One end of the csiga will be closed the other open, like a Bugle (you know those corn chip snacks from way back?, like that). Let me know if you try them!
Be well, Natalie

8 01 2012
Debbie

well, I tried them today. I found a “heavy duty” toothpick type stick that looked like it would work. I cut the squares too large, I think, and perhaps I didn’t roll the dough thin enough. But my biggest problem was that the dough started sticking to the stick (after a few dozen). I don’t know what I was doing different but nothing I tried would get the process back on track. I tried rolling the stick in flour first. Didn’t help. I tried adding more flour to the dough itself before rolling. It still would stick. I even tried dipping the stick in some oil but it would still stick.
Here’s my blog about my attempt: http://gardentenders.com/members/MsDebbieP/blog/2877

Knowing that the one end is closed REALLY helps! Thank you.

6 10 2014
alanak227

I’m a pastor at one of those churches that still gets together weekly to make Csiga. We usually make and sell them from October through April as a church fund raiser. It’s a great activity. I’m not Hungarian myself, but am Ukrainian so the ethnic nature of the church I serve, Magyar United Church of Christ in Elyria, Ohio, just feels comfortable! Happy Csiga making!

6 10 2014
21 10 2014
Natalie

Alana, how can I get in touch with you? Would you mind if I emailed you directly? I believe I have your email from your comment. Will you be selling csiga this fall? I would love to buy some if I could. I went to your church blog site and I was blown away when I saw the bacon post! Our family does bacon fries a couple of times each summer. I’ve never seen this anywhere else before. Made me laugh. Even the way that you described it. It’s amazing that our traditions are carried across the years and across the landscape. Hard not to feel connected to humanity in that way. Please let me know if you are doing the csiga fund raiser. Warm regards, Natalie

11 03 2015
alanak227

Hi Natalie- I see you wrote this some time ago, and I just discovered it! Yes- you can order Csiga. Just call the church and leave a message for Janet Sakal. 440-323-1221

6 10 2014
Natalie

This is wonderful! Thank-you for sharing this. I was sharing pictures of this csiga making event with my grandmother on Saturday. Her memory is starting to fade and it brings her such joy to reminisce. She no longer lives on her own, but in a retirement community, and probably won’t make csiga again. She is almost 89 now. I’ve shared these responses with her, i’ll share this one as well. She is always in wonder when I tell her where the comments are from and that this has reached folks from all over – connected through the mighty csiga!

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