What is manti?
Manti (Turkish spelling mantı and pronounced ‘mante’) is a Turkish main course consisting of dough pouches filled with seasoned lamb mince. These parcels are cooked before being served with one, two or three of the following sauces:
- yogurt, garlic and dried mint sauce
- melted butter with paprika powder
- tomato sauce
Turkish manti are similar to many dishes from across the globe, with the comforting draw of a bowl of filled pastry parcels universally hard to resist. Whether you’re dining in Istanbul on manti, ravioli in Italy, or gyoza in Japan, these mouth-watering morsels are bound to hit the spot. They can be pan-fried, baked or steamed before serving.
The first reference to the dish the Turks call manti can be found in the very first Turkish dictionary, originally published in the eleventh century. The culinary entry mentions tutmac, a pasta served with a yoghurt sauce. During the fifteenth century, a more familiar dish began to emerge. By then, pasta dumplings filled with lamb mincemeat and chickpeas had appeared, accompanied by yogurt and garlic sauce as standard.
Did you know...
The smaller the manti, the more skilled the cook. In Turkey, it is said that a woman can only make a desirable bride when forty of her manti can fit in a tablespoon.
How to make manti
Everyone agrees that Turkish manti tastes its best when prepared fresh. A dough of wheat flour and water, sometimes enriched with egg, is kneaded, cooled and then rolled out. It is then cut into small squares, with a little filling placed in the middle. The filling is generally minced lamb, grated onion and spices and herbs, with some variation depending on the chef. Once folded and pressed shut, manti is pre-baked then finished in boiling water.
Manti are spooned into bowls and sprinkled with sauce. These sauces are usually garlic yoghurt with dried mint and melted butter with paprika. A simple tomato sauce is also popular.
Vegetarian manti is also on the menu for those looking to avoid meat. One such filling comprises of crushed chickpeas given some fiery edge with chilli flakes and cumin.
How to eat
Each diner sprinkles their bowl of manti with dried mint, chilli flakes and sumac to taste. Manti is eaten with a spoon.
If you’re after a delicious alternative to these dumplings, Chinese siu mai or Italian tortellini are worth considering. Even Mexican cuisine boasts a distant cousin of Turkish manti with its tamales.
Manti is a meal in itself. Serve a salad alongside it to enjoy a dinner with your daily vegetable allowance included.