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 GeneralissimoPrint
- Lamb Filling:
- 1 lb. top-quality organic ground Lamb
- 6 oz. onion – diced fine
- 1 clove garlic (about ¼ oz.) – chopped fine
- 1 ½ heaping Tbsp chopped parsley
- ½ heaping Tbsp chopped mint
- 2 Tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tsp ground black pepper
- 1 Tsp ground fennel seed
- 1 Tsp ground black pepper
- 1 Tsp crushed Urfa Biber chili flakes
- ⅓ Tsp cayenne (optional)
- Dough Ingredients:
- 3 ¼ cups flour (and a little extra for bench flour)
- 1 whole egg
- 1 Tbsp. freshly-ground cumin
- 1 oz. (2 Tbsp.) melted butter
- ½ cup warm water
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ Tsp kosher salt
- 2 oz. (4 Tbsp.) melted ghee (preferred) or butter, set aside for baking
- Chicken Broth (recipe follows)
- Yogurt for serving – TFD prefers adding minced fresh herbs and garlic to his
- Fresh Parsley – chopped for serving
- Chicken Broth Ingredients:
- 2 qt. chicken stock
- 2 oz. shallot – sliced
- 3 cloves garlic – sliced
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 6 sprigs thyme
- ¾ oz. parsley stems – chopped coarse
- 1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup white wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lamb Filling:
- Mix all together and refrigerate until needed.
- Combine in mixing bowl (except 2 oz. melted butter). Knead until smooth. Divide into two balls and cover with a towel to rest, 30-45 minutes. With a rolling pin, roll dough out to an even thickness of about ⅛”. Cut the rolled dough into squares of about 1-½”.
- Place a marble sized portion of meat in the center of each square and pinch the ends together (around the meat leaving the top exposed) to resemble a boat shape. Continue until dough/meat mixture is gone.
- Chicken Broth:
- Gently warm oil in sauce pot, add all aromatics and sweat lightly about 1 minute. Add wine to deglaze and reduce until about dry. Add chicken stock and reduce by about a quarter (down to 6 c.). Strain and adjust seasoning to taste
- To bake put the 2 oz. melted butter on baking pan and fill with Manti. Bake at 375°F for 20 – 30 minutes, until Manti are lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Serve in chicken broth with yogurt and chopped parsley.
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