One of the ways different cultures spread beyond their originating communities is through food. And the culture of Eastern European Jews here in the United States is no exception: foods such a bagels, pastrami, and latkes are now enjoyed by a wide range of people across different cultures.
Of course, there's a lot more to the culinary heritage of Eastern European Jews than just bagels and lox. And there are plenty of tasty dishes worth exploring and learning about. Take the knish, for example. The delightful, if perhaps less well-known, deli or street vendor snack is quick, filling, and portable.
And Nibble Inc., in Troy, is turning out some of the better examples of knish in the Capital Region.
New York City is home to one of the largest Jewish populations worldwide, second only to Israel. There, it is not hard to find a good deli that will warm up a knish for you (it's pronounced like "kuh-nish"). Finding a good knish here in the Capital Region, however, is a bit more tricky. I can think of maybe three places in the area that readily have them.
In its most rudimentary form, a knish has a mashed potato center (sometimes with onion or garlic) that is encased by dough, then fried. Some versions feature caramelized onion, or braised and tender brisket, or even cheese. A knish makes for a quick, filling lunch that is perfectly portable.
The base offering at Nibble comes with cheesy potatoes and grilled onions ($5). The dough is the potato donut base the bakeshop has become known for, with a kick of nutmeg to balance out the heavy flavors of dairy and tubers. The knish is fried, like the donut, and served with a side of mustard, like any good Jewish deli would give you.
Because of the dough Nibble uses, its knish is chewier and a bit thicker than one you would normally find. But no matter, because the sweetness from it works beautifully with the more savory flavors that make up the rest of the knish. The dough also makes this version of knish more portable: It doesn't crumble under the weight of the potato, and it can be wrapped in foil and transported elsewhere without the fear of it becoming a soggy pile of mush.
Knish enthusiasts might be skeptical of this step away from tradition, preferring the more traditional thinner, flakier dough. But cultures are adaptable, and so are the foods that accommodate them. The donut exterior of the Nibble knish in no way deters from the purpose of knish. In fact, I would say it improves the experience overall.
Much like Nibble's donuts, the variety of knish flavors deviate from the expected. Sauerkraut, kasha (a form of buckwheat groats), and even chorizo make appearances in Nibble's knish, which range in price from $5-$7. Chorizo, a decidedly un-Jewish and non-Eastern European sausage, shows how disparate ingredients -- kind of like people from varied cultures -- can come together to create their own unique taste.
And Nibble, Inc is, bringing those food cultures together, one potato-filled, doughy morsel at a time.
Troy, NY 12180
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