Manti Recipe on the Veggie Pillow
This manti recipe is one of our favourites, and like many other delicious recipes, I learned it from my mom. And she insisted that it be known that manti lies on a veggie pillow, and nothing else!
But if you are not familiar with Asian cuisine, you may be wondering what manti actually is… Fret not!
What is manti?
Manti is a different kind of dumpling, an exquisite dish made from thin, tender dough with a juicy meat filling. Manti are truly nomadic: first they came to Central Asia from China, and from there, this dish, with its diverse recipes and preparation methods, migrated to Russia and other European countries.
On my trip to Turkey, I had the opportunity to try traditional Turkish manti. They were more like a kind of pasta than the homemade manti I was used to. Don’t get me wrong, they were still tasty, especially with a yoghurt sauce, but I was a bit surprised to see the tiny dumplings before me. I had expected them to be bigger, more like the manti recipe I knew and loved.
In my family, manti are usually served when we have parties or guests. It’s not an everyday recipe: it takes time to prepare and some skill to shape manti dumplings. However, it doesn’t take quite as long as the Macedonian tavce gravce, or even my mom’s borscht recipe.
The history of manti
The birthplace of manti, as with many similar dishes, is believed to be China. The name supposedly comes from the word mantou, which means “stuffed head”. According to an ancient Chinese legend, manti can be enjoyed today because of commander Liang Junge. He was ordered to sacrifice fifty men to the spirits, but not wanting to betray his loyal warriors, the commander came up with a cunning plan – he ordered dough to be made into buns that looked like human heads and then filled them with beef meat. Apparently, the otherworldly powers were pleased with the substitute and the recipe gained popularity. After tasting manti, you won’t be surprised either!
- Minced meat: 600 g
- Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
- Onion: 1
- Butter, to taste
For the dough:
- Flour: 540 g (3 cups), plus extra for dusting
- Egg: 1
- Olive oil: 1 tbsp
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Hot water: 1 glass
For the veggie pillow:
- Carrots: 2
- Onion: 1 (2 including the filling)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for frying
How to make manti dumplings:
1.Starting with the dough; in a small bowl, mix the egg with the 1 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of iol.
2. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. In the middle of the flour, make a hole or a well.
3. Pour the egg mixture into the well.
4. Then, carefully pour the glass of hot water into the bowl, and stir the mixture together as you do it.
5. When a loose mass forms, knead the dough. This will take about 15 minutes.
6. When you’re done kneading, the dough should be at optimum elasticity. Cover it with a napkin and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
7. While the dough is resting, you should prepare the filling: Shred the onion and then mix it with the minced meat. In order for the finished manti to be juicy, dilute the minced meat with water (about 100 ml is enough)
8. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper, and nutmeg, and mix everything well.
9. Once the dough has set in the fridge, get it out. Roll dough thinly and cut into circles with a glass or cup.
10. In each circle, add around 1 tbsp of the minced meat and onion filling, as well as a small cube of butter for juiciness.
11. Pull up two opposite edges of the dough and pinch them shut. After that, the “ears”, which are on opposite sides, will be pinned together.
12. For the vegetable pillow, peel the onion and cut it into slices.
13. Peel and grate the carrots.
14. Fry the onions and carrots in olive oil in the biggest frying pan you own (you will need to fit all the manti on top in the next step).
15. Whilst frying, place the manti on the vegetable pillow. Pour water into the pan so that it just covers the bottom of the manti. Place a lid over the frying pan and cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes.
16. Serve manti warm, ganished with some dill and sour cream, or a garlic yoghurt sauce.
- You can use any ground meat of your choice. More traditional manti are made with ground lamb or ground beef.
- For the garlicky yoghurt sauce, mash garlic and combine it with yoghurt. Add some salt and red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.
- If the manti dough sticks to your hand while rolling, add more flour to it.
- You can freeze uncooked manti. It will take you a little longer to cook it next time, but the taste will be the same.
Enjoy mouth-watering manti
While this manti recipe is not technically traditional Turkish food, it’s definitely still authentic. I’ve eaten this dish ever since I was a kid. I still remember the smell of it around Christmas time in Kazakhstan. Mmm… delicious.
If you’re daring enough to mix cuisines, you could make a side of Greek spanakopita, or follow manti up with a Portuguese pastel de nata… Check out our other recipes from around the world for more inspiration!