I distinctly remember the first time I had manti. It was on my first visit to Istanbul. Selim’s cousins took us out to dinner one night at a restaurant I wish I could remember 🤷♀️ I was eyeing the mantı, that was described in English as “lamb dumplings in yogurt sauce.” One of Selim’s cousins saw me considering it and explained that is a traditional Turkish favorite. It is such a unique combination… The manti are hot, but then the yogurt sauce is cool, followed by the oil drizzle that’s hot! It seems like the pieces shouldn’t come together, but they do perfectly. The whole table ended up ordering mantı! I was hooked!
Now I seek manti out whenever we go to a Turkish restaurant. (Probably to the detriment of trying other delicious dishes, but I just can’t NOT order it.) For awhile there, we felt like we were in the secret cool kids club at Sultan Kebab in Charlottesville, because while there wasn’t any manti on the menu, if you knew to ask for it, they almost always had some for you! That quickly became the worst kept secret in town (thanks to chefs exposing the secret via Charlottesville 29 I think…), and now it shows up on the menu. We’ve also learned from experience that if you have a group of people for dinner who can’t decide whether they want a delicious kebab or to try the manti, manti makes a perfect shared appetizer too!
This is one of the dishes that we love so much are were afraid to try at home for fear of messing it up. Not to mention, it is fairly time-consuming as well. But we were SUPER excited at how well this came out. Also, it’s gorgeous! The dough for the dumplings came together easier than other doughs I’ve tried before for similar projects. We had two failings that are quite easy to correct for next time. One, we forgot the dried mint at the store. By which I mean, we picked it up, had it with all our other stuff, and somehow didn’t come home with it 🤷♀️ The dish is delicious without it, but don’t skip it if you can. It adds another layer of flavor. And two, we didn’t quite have the dumplings all the way submerged when they were cooking, which made the tops a little dry on some of them. Learn from our mistakes! Another side note – you should be able to find Turkish pepper at a Middle Eastern grocery. If not, substitute Aleppo pepper.
(Minimally adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan)
- 2+ cups AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1+ tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup cold milk
- 1/2 lb ground lamb
- 1/2 cup onion, grated
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
- 4 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups beef stock
- Yogurt Sauce
- 1 2/3 cups “Greek” yogurt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Spiced Butter
- 5 1/2 tbsp clarified butter
- 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp dried mint
- Prepare the dough in a large bowl. Sift together the flour and salt, then create a well in the center. Lightly beat the eggs and pour these, along with the olive oil and milk into the well. Stir together with a fork until the dough starts to come together.
- Then turn it out onto a floured counter-top and use your hands to form into a dough ball. Knead for ~8 minutes. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth to rest for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling and yogurt sauce.
- For the filling, combine the lamb, onion, parsley, peppers, and salt in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- For the yogurt sauce, stir together the yogurt, garlic, and salt. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- After the dough has rested, roll it out to 1/16th inch thick. (We used our pasta roller attachment for the stand mixer.) Then cut the dough into 2 x 2 inch squares.
- To make the dumplings, place ~ 1/2 tsp of meat filling in the center of each square. Bring the four corners together and then twist to seal. Press down to flatten slightly.
- Place the dumplings in a greased deep baking dish (or two, depending on the size you use).
- Bake them for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the dumplings from the oven and pour stock over until all of the dumplings are just submerged in the liquid. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and return to the oven. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the clarified butter in a small saucepan. Add the spices and swirl together. Keep on very low heat until ready to serve.
- Once the dumplings are cooked, place some on each plate. Pour the yogurt sauce over top and then drizzle with the butter.