Monday, November 7, 2011


One of my favorite restaurants in DC, Zaytina, used to feature a dish called manti, which were tiny Turkish dumplings filled with ground meat topped with an amazing salty garlic yogurt sauce and paprika.  Sadly, the manti disappeared from the menu for a while, and is only offered as a special now, from time to time.  Ever since trying them, I've wanted to make them myself, especially for the sauce.

Over the weekend, I had enough time to finally try the manti recipe from Turquoise.  All I can say is wow, these things were good.  The sauce was even better than what I had at Zaytinya!  The manti themselves were very labor intensive, and were worth making for the experience.  Apparently, the smaller the manti, the better the chef, but I made large ones to save time.  In the future, I'd probably use wonton wrappers to speed up the process.  But the sauce!  So. Good.  It's really two sauces: yogurt sauce and paprika butter.  I'm going to make it to serve with other dishes, like kofte kebab and Turkish chicken with tomato rice pilaf.  The sauce is salty, garlicky, and the paprika butter gives it a great spicy, smoky taste.  I topped my manti with some Aleppo pepper.
The finished product, with the tasty, tasty sauce.

The four cornered manti fold is what was shown in the photograph in the cookbook, so I decided to try that.  A shortcut would be to just fold them into triangles.  That's what I'll do in the future unless I'm having guests.  As I mentioned, the manti are very time consuming.  When I make them again, I'll make a huge batch so I can freeze more to serve as appetizers.  Whenever I make dumplings of any kind, I know it's going to take forever, so I just suck it up and make a double batch.  But the sauce?  It takes less than 5 minutes to make both the yogurt sauce and the accompanying paprika butter. 

I used the pasta making attachment to my kitchen mixer to make the dough.  It can be done with a rolling pin but I found the pasta machine to be more efficient.  For me, the dough recipe didn't work.  At all.  I put the ingredients in my kitchen mixer on a low speed using the dough hook and it turned into clumpy powder and did not resemble dough at all.  I added all three eggs and it was still too dry.  So, I added a little water and everything was fine.  I don't know if the recipe just doesn't work or if it was my error, but if the dough doesn't work for you, just add a little water. 
Even though they're big, I get some cred for folding them in the traditional way, right?

I always laugh when a recipe says to do stuff on a "lightly floured" surface because that always means my kitchen will look like someone covered some ferrets in flour and let them run loose for a while.  It gets everywhere!  Maybe I'm just messy, but there is no such thing as "lightly floured" in my house. In other words, significant clean-up efforts were required after I made this dish. 

Manti with Crazy-Awesome Greek Yogurt Sauce and Paprika Butter
Serves 2 plus some left over to freeze as appetizers
From Turquoise

7 ounces ground lamb
1 small onion, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
14 ounces Greek yogurt (I used Fage nonfat)
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp dried mint
Aleppo pepper (optional)

 Manti Dough
14 ounces bread flour
3 large eggs
1 tsp sea salt

1) Lightly beat the eggs and put them in your kitchen mixer bowl along with the flour and salt.  Use the dough hook and mix until the dough is stiff.  Add water if your dough looks decidedly un-doughlike.  Knead for about 5 minutes and then remove it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for another 5 minutes until it's smooth and elastic.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 1 hour. 
2) Divide dough into golf ball sized pieces.  Using the pasta attachment to your kitchen mixer (or a rolling pin), roll the dough until it's paper thin.  Cut the dough into 1.5 x 1.5 inch squares.  This takes forever.  Even with two people working.
3) Mix the lamb and onion in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
4) To make the dumpling, place a small amount of the lamb mixture into the center of each dough square.  I used 1 teaspoon of filling in each dumpling.
5) To make the four cornered fold, moisten the edges of the dough with water and bring two opposite corners together over the filling and squeeze them together to join them.  Repeat with the other two corners.  Carefully pinch the "seams" on the sides after you seal the four corners at the top. To take a shortcut, moisten the edges of the dough with water and fold the dough squares into triangles and seal all the edges. Hopefully you can see a TV from wherever you make these, it takes a while. 
6) Freeze the manti that you aren't going to eat right away.  To cook the remaining manti, boil them in water until they rise to the top.  This should take about 3 minutes, maybe a little more, but not more than 5 minutes.   Dish the manti into shallow bowls.
7) To make the awesome sauce, crush the garlic and salt together in a bowl.  Then add the Greek yogurt and mix well with a fork (I added a little extra salt).  Serve over manti.
8) To make the paprika butter, melt the 2 ounces of butter in a small pan.  Then add paprika and mint and heat until it foams (I used a few extra dashes of hot paprika).  Then pour it over the manti and yogurt sauce.  Top with Aleppo pepper.

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