These delicious tiny Turkish treasures called Manti or Mantu, are small bite-size dumplings made with spiced ground meat and onion, that nomadic Turkish tribes brought with them as they travelled from Central Asia towards Anatolia during the 13th-century. A popular dish also among Armenian, Caucasian, Afgan and Chinese Islamic cuisines, family members traditionally gathered to prepare the dough and fill the tiny squares, as a labour of true culinary love. The marriage of the melt-in-the-mouth dumplings with garlic-yoghurt sauce and spice infused butter is simply irresistible. Inspired by the delectable Turkish Minced Lamb Pasta Parcels that I enjoyed at Diwan last weekend, I became obsessed with Manti, and the complex and enticing flavours that define Turkish cuisine, so was thrilled when I came across this fabulous recipe from 'Turquiose: A Chefs Travels in Turkey' by Greg and Lucy Malouf. Combined with Chef Patrick Riley's dramatic presentation — painterly swoosh of Turkish hot pepper paste, artful garnish of nasturtium petals, and final sprinkle of bright red ground sumac — it's not surprising that these Lamb Manti with Yoghurt and Zesty Paprika Butter are the most popular entrée at Diwan Restaurant at Toronto's new Aga Khan Museum.
Manti with Yoghurt and Zesty Paprika Butter
Recipe adapted from 'Turquoise' by Greg and Lucy Malouf
2-3 large eggs
14 oz bread flour
1 tsp sea salt
7 oz minced or ground lamb
1 small onion, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
2 cups Greek-style yogurt or sour cream
2 oz unsalted butter
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tspn dried mint
4 tbsp Turkish hot pepper paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
Nasturtiums and corn sprouts, optional
To make the manti dough, lightly beat two of the eggs and place into the bowl of an electric mixer with the flour and salt. Use the dough hook to work it to a stiff dough. If the dough is too stiff, add the remaining egg, lightly beaten. Knead for about 5 minutes, then put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for another 5 minutes or so, until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for about 1 hour.
Separate the dough into golf ball-size pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface to form a large, paper-thin rectangle. Cut into strips around 1-1/2 inches wide, and repeat with the remaining dough. Stack the strips on top of one other and cut into 1-1/2-inch to 2-inch squares. If you have a pasta machine, roll the dough through the settings, then trim the sheets to end up with 1-1/2-inch squares.
Combine the lamb and onion in a bowl, then season with salt and pepper. Place a chickpea-sized amount of filling in the centre of each manti square. To form into a traditional Manti-shape, bring two opposite corners together over the filling and press to join at the top. Repeat with the other two corners, carefully moistening and pinching the side 'seams' as you seal them, with the aim of end ing up with a four-cornered starlike shape, ensuring that the edges are sealed well so the filling doesn't come out as the manti cook. Place the manti on a lightly floured tray as you complete them and repeat until all the dough and filling have been used.
In a small bowl, crush the garlic with 1 teaspoon salt, then beat into the yogurt until well combined and set aside. In another bowl, stir together the hot pepper and tomato paste until smooth, then using a large pastry brush or palette knife, smear a spoonful of the tomato paste along the inside of each serving bowl and set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Drop in some of the manti — they will rise to the surface within 1-1/2 to 2 minutes as they are cooked. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the cooked manti to four warmed serving bowls and drizzle with the garlic-yogurt sauce. Quickly sizzle the butter in a small frying pan, then add the paprika and mint and heat until foaming. Drizzle the sizzling butter over the manti, garnish with nasturtiums and corn sprouts, and serve immediately.