Citizens, your sublime leader – the well-pleated and frequently overstuffed TFD! – has long sought out the dumplings of the Silk Road region, and the Armenian version of manti are amongst my all-time favorites!
Manti are dumplings popular in most Turkic cuisines, as well as in the South Caucasian, Central Asian and Chinese Islamic recipe canons. Nowadays, manti are also consumed throughout Russia and other post-Soviet countries, where the dish spread from the Central Asian republics.
The dumplings typically consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef in a dough wrapper, and either boiled or steamed. Size and shape vary significantly depending on the geographical location.
Manti resemble the Chinese jiaozi, Korean mandu, Mongolian buuz, and the Tibetan momo, and the dish’s name is cognate with the Korean mandu, Chinese mantou, and Japanese manjū, although the Chinese and Japanese counterparts refer to different dishes.
The origin is somewhat uncertain. While the Chinese word “mantou” has been suggested as the origin for the word “manti”, this word had several different spellings in Chinese in the past indicating that the Chinese attempted to adapt a foreign word to their writing system.
Originally, mantou was meat filled and mantou still retains its old meaning as stuffed bun in Wu Chinese as moedeu. But in Mandarin and many other varieties of Chinese, mantou refers to steamed bun, while baozi resembles the ancient mantou stuffed with meat.
The most widely held theory of its origins is that migrating Turkic-speaking people brought the mantu dough with them to Anatolia, where it evolved into the Turkish manti. Some variations may be traced back to the Uyghur people of northwest China.
When the Tatars settled into the Kayseri region of modern day Turkey, the area became known for it manti. The dish may have originated in the territories of Mongol Empire. While the etymological link between man tou and mantı is debated, there is agreement that the recipe was carried across Central Asia along the Silk Road to Anatolia by Turkic and Mongol peoples.
According to an Armenian researcher, manti first reached Cilician Armenia as a result of the cultural interaction between Armenians and Mongols during their alliance in the 13th century. Migrating Turkic-speaking peoples brought the mantu dough with them to Anatolia, where it evolved into the Turkish mantı.
When the Tatars settled into the Kayseri region of modern-day Turkey, the area became known for its manti. Korean mandu is also said to have arrived in Korea through the Mongols in the 14th century. However, some researchers do not discount the possibility that manti may have originated in the Middle East and spread eastward to China and Korea through the Silk Road.
Like their Turkish cousins, the Armenian manti, also sometimes referred to as monta, are usually served with yoghurt (matzoon) or sour cream (ttvaser) and garlic, accompanied by clear soup (mantapour). Always served “open” in a boat shape, manti are more common among western (Cilician) Armenians, while among eastern Armenians, Georgians and Azerbaijanis, similar dumplings called khinkali are more prevalent.
Citizens, this recipe is most authentic, though I have made some specific changes to my taste, such as adding cumin to the dough. I have every confidence you will thoroughly enjoy this unique meal! 🙂 If you would like, you can purchase a Turkish manti cutter here, which will save you some time.
Battle on – The Generalissimo