Right now, my neck, my arms and my shoulders hurt due to the heavy use of rolling pin all afternoon… When I get up tomorrow morning, I will probably feel my leg muscles hurting as well. Or lower back… who knows??!! I am not too worried though, it will pass soon ( I hope my age is not catching up with me!) but the sweet success of replicating my grandma Emine’s manti will stay here as I finish the whole tray plate by plate… bite by bite… dipping those beauties in garlic yogurt one by one!
But right now, my back still hurts as I am writing, so I will probably keep the post short. You can call this dish Turkish meat dumplings or ravioli. Basically, you stuff the dough with meat and cook it either boiling, steaming, or like my grandma, twice-baked. The dumplings come in various sizes, depending on who makes it. This dish is a traditional dish in Turkey and in some of the surrounding countries as well. As with any dish in the cuisine, every region has their own tweak to the recipe – either in ingredients, in size and shape of the dumplings or in cooking style. The version I am giving here is the type cooked by my Grandma. One good thing about her twice-baking style is that after the first baking, manti can be stored in the freezer for later. Or can be shipped in vacuumed packages to the granddaughter who lives overseas ! What a joy it has been to open those packages for the past ten years!
I used to help my grandma and my mom while they made this dish. My grandma made the dough, rolled it out, and cut it into little squares. Meanwhile I put the meat on each little square, and my mom closed the squares, made tiny boat looking dumplings and placed them on the baking tray. One thing I ignored during those years came back haunting me today, though. I never paid attention to the consistency of the dough, how big each dough section to be rolled out was, or how thick it should be rolled out…Why would I? I had better things to do such as watching the TV, reading my book, going to the cafe by our summer house in Tatlisu to hang out with my friends. And then my friends would come back home with me if there was Manti on the lunch menu. Now, I am hating those ignorant behaviors of mine. But at least, Emine is just one phone call away and she was patiently waiting by the phone all day for my questions after I gave her heads up in the morning. Eventually my mom called around 4:30 pm (11:30 pm in their time) and asked if they could go to bed now – if everything was going ok and if I did not have any questions. Sweet women of my family!
The measures are approximate, as the water-flour ratio will change depending on the type of flour, and how old the flour is. Prep time is approximately 2-3 hours (depends how much you worked your upper body at the gym). Cooking time will be around 40 min for the first baking and 20 min for the second baking.
- ~2 lbs of all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 cups of water to form the dough
- 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 cups of water for the second baking (per baking dish, I had to use 2-14 inch deep dish pizza pans)
- Filling: 1 lbs of ground meat, seasoned with salt and black pepper
- For serving: 1 clove of garlic (mashed) and 1-1/2 cup of yogurt, 3 tablespoons
of butter, 1 teaspoon of paprika and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (or to taste), dried mint
1. Mix flour, salt and egg.
2. Add water gradually to form a soft dough (not sticky though!) and knead 5 minutes.
3. Divide the dough in 4 or 5 equal pieces. Rest the dough for 20 minutes. (how many pieces you divide the dough will determine how much you have to work to roll out the dough to the thickness required – 2 mm (~0.08 inches). Keep the ruler handy if you have no idea like me.
4. Knead one piece of the dough into a ball and roll it out to the 2-mm thickness. Make sure you flour the surface well when you are rolling it out. If the dough is sticky, knead it with flour first. Also, the dough should not be stiff as it will be hard to roll it out in one piece. It should be earlobe consistency (In Turkey, this is very typical way of describing how the dough should feel when it is done right. Just hope that everybody’s earlobe consistency is the same!:).)
5. Cut the rolled out dough in 1 inch squares. Place approximately a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of ground meat in the middle of each square. Don’t worry if your squares are not perfect. Combine the leftover dough pieces together to make a square or rectangle. Also, you can adjust the meat amount depending on how big your square is.
6. Close the two sides of the square together to make a little boat-like dumpling. Place them on a greased baking dish with high walls, at least 1-1/2 inches. (For me, the whole dough made enough manti to fill 2 – 14 inch deep dish pizza pans.) Start from the outer edge and work your way towards the center.
7. Bake them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 40 min (or until the manti starts browning on top. You do not want to leave it in the oven too long, then it will be way too crunchy even after second baking.)
8. Melt 4 tablespoon of unsalted butter in 4 cups of water in a pan and bring it to a boil.
9. Pour the boiling water-butter mixture over the baking tray and return it to the oven.
10. Cook for another 20 min or until most of the liquid is gone. It will probably be done before all the liquid is gone. Test it for doneness after 15-20 min. (even if that means eating 1/4th of the dish right out of the oven! Go for it!)
11. Mix garlic and yogurt together in a bowl.
12. Melt 3 tablespoon of butter in a little pan and add paprika and crushed red pepper.
13. Serve manti with garlic-yogurt , drizzled with paprika butter. Garnish with dried mint.
14. Go for a 30-min walk as this dish sits heavy after eating!