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Rego Park Deli Names New Dish After Spelling Bee Champ

 Arvind Mahankali tastes knaidels with Rep. Grace Meng and Jay Parker, the owner of Ben’s Best Deli
Arvind Mahankali tastes knaidels with Rep. Grace Meng and Jay Parker, the owner of Ben’s Best Deli
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Congresswoman Grace Meng's office

QUEENS — You don't have to know how to spell “knaidel” before ordering the dish named in honor of the newly minted National Spelling Bee Champion.

To recognize the achievements of Arvind Mahankali, the 13-year-old Queens winner of the contest who correctly spelled the Yiddish word, a Rego Park deli decided to cook up a dish of the matzo balls for the champ.

"Arvind’s Knaidels" were introduced during a ceremony this weekend at Ben’s Best Deli on Queens Boulevard and will soon become an item on its menu, said Marty Stein, the deli's manager.

“'Knaidel' is the Yiddish word for matzo ball,” said Stein. “We serve matzo balls every day and we wanted to honor Arvind.”

Matzo balls, a traditional Jewish dumpling, are served in chicken soup, one of the most popular dishes at the deli, Stein said.

Arvind, an eighth grader from Bayside Hills who attends Nathaniel Hawthorne M.S. 74 in Oakland Gardens, tasted the new dish along with Rep. Grace Meng.

“I’m really very honored that Ben’s Deli named the knaidels after me,” said Arvind on Monday. “They tasted very good.”

Arvind said he tasted knaidels for the first time last week at Carnegie Deli and then at Katz’s Deli in Manhattan. But Sunday was the first time he ate them in Queens, he said.

“Only in Queens, the most diverse county in America, can an Indian-American kid win a national contest for correctly spelling the Yiddish word for matzo ball,” said Meng in a statement.

“It truly exemplifies the outstanding diversity that exists in our great borough, and I am proud to help celebrate that.”

Meng presented the spelling champ with an American flag she arranged to have flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor last week.

The deli, which has been around for 66 years, often names its dishes and sandwiches after local elected officials, neighborhood stores and events.

The menu includes the "Lefrak Special," "Congressman Gary Ackerman Special" and "Bed, Bath & Beyond."