PFB #2 Manti: The Ottoman Empire’s precious dumpling

Manti
      This comforting little meat filled dumpling is the beating heart of Turkish cuisine. Also known as Boerek of the Tartars or Tatar Boregi, it found it’s way to the region by migrating Turks traveling back from Mongolia in the 13th century (the time of Genghis Khan). It was made popular by nomads because they could travel long distances without having to worry about spoilage and the dumplings could be reconstituted quickly by steaming, it was truly the quintessential camp food. After the fall of Constantinople (Instanbul) in the 15th century, art infiltrated the culture and cuisine of Turkey and one began to see ornate presentations of food coming out of the palaces. Over the past couple of centuries, other cooking methods such baking took hold and now over a dozen varieties of manti can be found throughout the region.
        Contemporary varieties of manti are the meat filled or meat with pumpkin, and are typically served with a cool garlicky yogurt (hadari) and sprinkled with sumac. Sumac is a deep red bulbous fruit of a bush that grows in funny upward clusters. It’s usually dried, ground and used as a spice to add a soothing lemony tang to dishes (it’s the stuff you think is paprika that’s sometimes sprinkled on hummus).

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       The preparation of this dish is quite simple but does require patience. I cut the prep time down by using chinese egg roll wrappers instead of making and rolling out my own pasta dough. Since summer has come late to Santa Barbara this year, and 93 degree heat isn’t that conducive to fresh pasta making, it was the way to go. You can find them in the grocery store usually next to, or around the tofu. I used the large  4.5″ x 4.5″ sheets and cut them into 1.5 in. squares (cut the sheet into thirds, creating strips, then cut across in thirds, making 9 squares from one sheet). Make sure to keep covered with a dry paper towel, topped with a damp one.
      The filling is easy and almost identical to a meatloaf or meatball recipe without the bread crumb. Though the meat staple of Turkey is lamb, one could easily substitute beef or veal if lamb isn’t readily available. In fact I used a combination of lamb and veal to achieve a richer flavor.

        Combine 2 pounds of ground meat, with one medium onion grated, one bunch parsley chopped and one whole egg. Season with a good helping of salt and pepper and mix together until lightly incorporated.

        Now, for the fun! (grab your egg whites and begin the assembly line!) These dumplings characteristically are folded leaving a small portion of the dough unsealed so the meat filling is popping out (think shu mai). Work with 4-8 pasta squares at a time so they don’t dry out.
        Brush the edges with egg white and fold the edges over on themselves (not diagonal though as you would with ravioli or wontons but literally into a rectangle like you’re folding the square in half on itself).  Place into an oiled baking dish, I used a paella pan but any round baking dish will do.

        Once you’ve folded yourself silly, and filled your round dish in a beautiful array of meat filled goodness, make sure the oven is set to 325. Most of the time, one would simply steam the manti, but in this case they are parbaked for about 12 minutes before seeing any liquid. After this initial time in the oven, remove and top with a healthy portion (4-6 oz) of butter and a cup of high quality broth or stock (I used an organic beef stock but chicken stock or even water is suitable) and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

        After the second baking, you should see the edges turn a crispy golden brown, if you don’t see this because your oven is unpredictable like mine, up the temp to 500 and pop them into the broiler for 2 minutes.

mmmmm, hot, crispy, buttery & meaty manti!

        Manti wouldn’t be the same without all the delicious accouterments that accompany it. A cool, refreshing yogurt seasoned with garlic and a hearty dish of stewed peppers top it all off. Green and red bell peppers are a staple in Turkey, but to make use of the remaining bounty from my summer garden, I used a variety of ripe and green cherry peppers, pasilla and seranno’s. I didn’t want to impart the heat of these peppers, just the vegetal flavor of them, so each was carefully seeded and deveined. Sauteed with onion, mushroom,  garden heirloom tomatoes and sumac powder, a sauteed turkish salsa of sorts is born. So simple yet phenomenal in flavor that I immediately made a mental list of a dozen other dishes I could spoon it on (buttered toast would be one of them).

        This dish is one I truly enjoyed working on. From research to execution to eating. If you freeze at the thought of having to stand for over an hour folding manti all by your lonesome, invite some friends over and make a party out of it. You can explain to your friends the history of the fall of Constantinople and the rise of the the regions most precious and endearing dumpling. Everyone will swoon over the finished product and eating it becomes a very communal and satisfying event. If you’re vegetarian, use roasted sweet potato or pumpkin in place of the lamb, a colorful dish that will sing your praises as a culinary master.
     This post is the second challenge for Project Food Blog, presented by the lovely folks at Foodbuzz.com. The challenge was to tackle a classic dish from another culture, not Italian nor French. I certainly stepped outside my comfort zone with Turkish cuisine, as I have never had the opportunity to visit the country and I am not Turkish. But through this challenge I now have a deep desire to travel to the country and embark on a culinary journey, discovering what may be one of the best cuisines on the planet.
If you enjoyed this post, please vote for me by clicking on the “official contestant” widget above.
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59 Comments

Filed under manti, turkish cuisine

59 responses to “PFB #2 Manti: The Ottoman Empire’s precious dumpling

  1. I loved this jump in the past. Beautiful post. Turkish cuisine is really good and this is so "classic". Good luck with the competition

  2. This could be one of the most gorgeous dishes I have ever seen. I don't know whether I want to eat it or stare at it.

  3. This looks yummy! Also, great presentation!

  4. Yum! Turkish food is fantastic. I really wanted to do something along those lines but I've already made quite a bit of middle eastern/Armenian food so I thought it would be cheating. I went Swedish instead. I can practically taste this post! Well done!

  5. Stunning! Absolutely Stunning!

  6. I literally said OMG out loud when I opened your post! How incredibly beautiful. Wonderfully written also. GREAT job!!! Kate@kateiscooking

  7. This is one of the best things I have ever seen. Can't wait to vote for you again!

  8. Thanks guys! You truly make me smile! This was such an exhilarating dish to embark on. Most times I try something for the first time, it's a miss and not having practiced this prior to yesterday was a big risk. This is now one of my favorite dishes to make and it'll be my staple this year at holiday dinners. A great experience!Again, thanks for the kind words!Leila

  9. I must say this looks totally different than the manti I normally make but it looks beautiful. I wish you still lived in New York…I'd be at your place all the time!

  10. I'm in just because the presentation is so cool. Well done.Jason

  11. WOW. Bravo! This presentation is nothing less than amazing. You deserve to advance to the next round. You definitely have my vote!

  12. What a beautiful history lesson that depicts the Turkish cuisine and its evolution. Amazing writing and delicious food. Good Luck in Round 2.

  13. This Manti looks so beautiful and I'm inspired by the history behind it. So inspired, in fact, that I'm going to try making it using your recipe tomorrow! Btw, I love the folding process, I'm not the least bit daunted to do it all on my own πŸ˜‰

  14. So this entry didn't even need words for me to want to vote for you, the pictures alone did it for me! The words were of course, great too:)I'm amazed that it wasn't as difficult as you said and I'd love to try making manti.Thanks for tackling this seemingly impossible dish:)

  15. oh my gawd. it looks so intricate! good job on this one! congrats for making it to round 2 and i hope we all make it to round 3! best of luck!

  16. Holy cow, this is absolutely stunning! You did a great job with this challenge! You've got my vote!

  17. Wow! That is all I need to say. Just wow! Beautiful and delicious post. You have my vote.

  18. dang, that is one impressive dish! although, if i keep staring at it, i might start drooling out of control. good luck, although you seem like a shoe in to the next round! πŸ™‚

  19. These are beautiful, I love the presentation ! Good Luck

  20. nice recipe . also tx to represent turkish foods:)) it s one of my favorite also.. just we make the shape different; in Turkey ,if it s smallest,it s best..check my manti recipe also.. enjoy with turkis foods:)http://yesimstylekitchen.blogspot.com/2010/06/mant-turkish-ravioli.html

  21. wow stunning and makes my mouth water!! Good luck πŸ™‚

  22. Wow! This is beautiful! What a fantastic meal! You've got my vote!

  23. I'm Armenian and have been eating manti my entire life! It is honestly my favorite food in the whole world πŸ™‚ Yours looks really great! You should be incredibly proud! We do roll out our dough, and it makes for a time-consuming process, and we generally have an assembly line of cooks doing all the different parts, haha. Great job!

  24. This is just gorgeous, one of the most beautiful dishes I have seen in a long time… well done!

  25. Outstanding!Voted πŸ™‚

  26. Looks beautiful! I live in a Turkish neighborhood in Paris, and I'll be keeping my eye out for these. I'll be voting for you – good luck!

  27. what a presentation! looks delicious- guess, i can work with vegetables and try out this dish…

  28. Gorgeous presentation, and I bet they taste great, too (all that butter). You've got my vote!

  29. Gorgeous! I love your presentation…You get my vote!

  30. something i never heard of and looking at this makes me want to try it ! thats called a perfect seller =) great job and thank you for recipe. good luck on challenge, i voted for you

  31. Thanks everyone! your support and kind comments are inspiring. i made one other dish with this one which will be getting it's own post tomorrow. this was deliciously fun, definitely give it a try!

  32. This is one great dish! Love, Love, Love it!Ed (Weekend Food Projects) http://weekendfoodprojects.comYou have my vote!

  33. I love dumplings and these look amazing! I can just imagine how delicious they were, love the pictures too. You got my vote and good luck!

  34. I love Turkish cuisine and totally impressed you tried manti. I can't wait to try it at home myself. I agree, though, that Turkey is a phenomenol place to visit. πŸ™‚

  35. wow! what an impressive presentation! a festive meal indeed! I cant wait to make one for myself. its too pretty to eat it. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe! Youve got my vote dear!

  36. Wow! This is absolutely stunning!! Such a gorgeous dish and you make it sound actually doable to one who;s never tried it. Kudos! You've got a vote from me.

  37. Oh my goodness — That is a lot of work!!! It's beautiful too. One vote here for you. Good luck with all.Shelly, Nibbles of Tidbits

  38. Beautiful presentation. I voted – good luck!

  39. Gorgeous presentation and food. I HAVE to try it. A lovely post and I adored the history lesson. You have my vote. Good luck in the competition.

  40. Oh my gosh…you did them so beautifully! GREAT post. I just LOVE this contest, I'm finding so many talented bloggers. You have my vote. I hope you get to keep going. Good luck!

  41. oh my goodness, what a beautiful dish! good luck in the challenge! you have my vote.:)-amandawww.seegirlcook.com

  42. Great post! I have never even heard of these before, but they are So pretty, I think I may just ahve to give them a try! I voted ofr you!Good luck!You can check out my PFB post at :http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/864

  43. Wow!! What a gorgeous dish! My mouth is watering…this one's going in the recipe box. Great post!

  44. Jen

    this looks delicious πŸ™‚ Good luck with project food and you got my vote for this one! Feel free to drop by πŸ™‚ Good luck and best wishes for making to the top !! WOOHOOjen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  45. This is just gorgeous, and was a true challenge to conquer! It reminds me of one of my favorite books of late, The Historian. You have a vote from me!My own entry is the Indian dessert Gulab Jamun — a dish steeped in rosewater, cardamom, and saffron syrup as well as special memories. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

  46. Errm, wow! Well, seeing as we're always complaining that Turkish food doesn't get promoted or appreciated enough, we're just going to have to vote for this. I have NEVER seen manti looking so spectacular! I can't begin to imagine how long it took you to do all this! πŸ™‚

  47. I am not eating meat, but this dish is absolutely gorgeous looking! I have never seen such a stunning presentation! Turkish cuisine is so fine and delicious, I am sure it tastes great!

  48. This is absolutely stunning. Oh my gosh… lol I just noticed the person above me typed the same thing… Stunning is the best word to describe this. You definitely have my vote. Bravo!

  49. This was sincerely an incredibly beautiful, wonderful post. Being Armenian, it sometimes can be difficult for me to see beyond the word Turkish, but since our foods are so closely intertwined, many of the dishes remind me of Armenia. This is one. You did an amazing job.

  50. Truly amazing and beautiful. I applaud you and am a bit worried about competing against you πŸ™‚ I'm at http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/1048 If you want to take a peek.

  51. WOW! This is such a beautiful dish. Well done. Best wishes in this round – I hope you make it!

  52. I'm loving this PFB challenge because I'm learning so much about food. I've never heard of manti, but it looks wonderful! Great foodtography! You've got my vote. – Charmaine @ SpeakeasyKitchen

  53. What a beautiful dish! Your post was very informative. You've got my vote. Great photos too!

  54. I'm with Belinda and can't decide if I want to eat this or just stare at it. I am mesmerized by the beauty of this dish. It is so elegant! Thank you for sharing step-by-step photographs. Wishing you all the best in the PFB Challenge and sending my vote!

  55. That is an amazing piece of work, truly stunning. Well done and thoroughly deserving of a place in the next round!

  56. Cooking for friends involves a lot of love…and that certainly went into this dish. How wonderful to be served this sumptuous platter – I really liked reading about the food history too. Great job!

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