These delicious tiny treasures, Manti or Mantu, dumplings with spiced ground meat and onion, is one of the all time favorite dishes in Turkey. In especially Anatolia, family members gather to prepare the dough and fill the tiny dough squares with the filling together; it is a bit of a labor of love, so it is great to get together for making it, and so worth the effort. The marriage of the melt-in-the-mouth dumplings with garlic yoghurt sauce and spice infused olive oil is simply irresistible. Tangy Sumac, red pepper flakes and dried mint infused in olive oil all add another layer of deliciousness and work greatly with garlic yoghurt as the sauce for manti.
The word manti derives from mantu, meaning dumplings. It is a shared culinary heritage that the nomadic Turkish tribes brought with them when they travelled from Central Asia towards Anatolia, today’s Turkey, during the 13th century. According to Holly Chase, “Turkic and Mongol horsemen on the move were supposed to have carried frozen or dried manti, which could be quickly boiled over a camp”; what a brilliant idea. These delicious dumplings are popular in most Turkic cuisines, as well as in Armenian, Caucasian, Central Asian, Afgan and Chinese Islamic cuisines.
These days you can easily find these delicious dumplings, manti in every supermarket in Turkey and Turkish specialty stores as well as Middle Eastern stores abroad, but there’s nothing quite like the homemade manti. In our family we make a double batch, bake the dumplings (which gives manti a nice bite) and freeze some of it for a delicious surprise later on, I highly recommend doing it. Traditionally, the filling consists of ground meat, onion and spices, though in Eastern Anatolia the crushed chickpeas with cumin and red pepper flakes are used as filling too and it is delicious vegetarian option.
I hope this scrumptious manti maybe a gift of good food, packed with history for your family and friends to share.
Cok Selamlar (My best wishes) and Afiyet Olsun,
Serves 4 people
300gr/ 2 cups/ 10 ½ oz. all-purpose plain flour (plus a little extra for rolling)
1 egg, beaten
4 fl. oz. / ¼ cup water
30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
5ml/1 tsp sea salt
For the filling:
225gr/8oz ground beef or lean ground lamb
1 onion, grated or very finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the garlic yoghurt:
500gr/2 ¼ cups thick and creamy plain yoghurt
1 -2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
Salt to taste
For the sauce:
15ml/1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi (give link) or tomato paste
60ml/4 tbsp. olive oil
10 ml/2 tsp. dried spearmint, kuru nane
5 ml/1 tsp. (or more) ground sumac (optional)
5 ml/ 1 tsp. (or more) Turkish red pepper flakes, chili flakes, pul biber
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
First make the dough. Sift the flour and salt into a wide bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in the beaten egg and the water and using your hands, draw the flour into the liquid and mix to a dough. Pour in the olive oil and knead the dough for about 5-8 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Manti dough needs to be quite hard; cover the dough with a cling film or kitchen towel and leave to rest in a cold place or in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, make the filling. Grate or finely chop the onion and combine with the ground meat. Season with salt and ground black pepper and mix well.
In a separate bowl, beat the yoghurt with the garlic and season with salt to your taste.
Cut the dough into 3 pieces. Working one piece of dough at a time (and cover the rest of the dough pieces with a damp towel in the meantime so they don’t dry out), roll the dough as thinly as you can into a sheet, on a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into small squares (roughly 2.5cm/1in). Spoon a little of the filling, rounded at a size of half a chickpea, into the middle of each square.
Pinch the opposite corners to form a little a little pouch and press the seams together to seal firmly.
Repeat with the rest of the dough and place the stuffed dumplings in a greased oven proof dish, stacking them next to one another. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, until the manti, dumplings start to get light golden. Take them out of the oven and let the manti cool. You can freeze some of this baked manti in a sealed bag for up to 3 weeks.
Pour the hot water and pinch of salt to a large pan and bring to the boil. Place the baked dumplings gently to the boiling water and simmer for about 8- 10 minutes, until they are cooked. Once cooked, drain the water and return the manti to the pan. Drizzle a little oil over them so that they don’t stick together.
While manti is cooking, prepare your sauce. Heat the oil in a wide pan and add the hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or the tomato paste. Stir in the red pepper flakes, dried mint and sumac, combine well and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Arrange manti on a warm serving dish and spoon the garlic yogurt over them. Then drizzle spices infused olive oil and tomato/red pepper paste sauce over the garlic yoghurt. You can decorate with extra red pepper flakes, dried mint and sumac and serve immediately.
Afiyet olsun; May you be happy and healthy with this delicious food you eat;