Martha Stewart Living (February 2008)
The February 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living includes a nice essay about her recently deceased mother - "Big Martha" - and the love for polish food that she had instilled in the family, especially with pierogies, for which she was famous.
Later in the issue is an absolutely stunning photospread titled "A World of Dumplings," showcasing Chinese wontons, Polish pierogi, Nepalese momos, Swedish kroppkakor, Italian gnudi, Indonesian onde onde, Austrian topfenknoedel and Turkish manti. It's a truly beautiful spread and very instructive about the world's various dumplings.
The photo of the Turkish manti, though, is especially mouthwatering, with beautiful star-shaped dumplings drizzled in a yogurt and butter sauce and served in a gorgeous bowl. Without even looking at the recipe, I knew it would be challenging, but also knew that we had to give it a try. A relatively poor photo of the manti image in the magazine can be viewed below. (Note to Martha, who's totally reading this blog: Put this stuff online, please!)
Making Turkish manti is long, exacting work, but it could also make for a few lovely, meditative hours in the kitchen.
We had most of the ingredients on hand, except for the ground lamb, Greek yogurt, and Turkish red pepper (Maras Biber; or paprika). The red pepper was the only one that was difficult to find, and we ended up purchasing a smoked Spanish paprika from Whole Foods, which worked nicely, but did not have the large flakes seen in Martha's photo.
Each step of making the manti was relatively easy in terms of skills needed, but each step was also very time-consuming. Making the dough and filling was a cinch (although the dough needs a while to rest), but cutting the dough into squares turned out to be one of the more difficult tasks. We would get the dough rolled out, make sure it didn't stick to the pastry mat, and then measure out and cut the individual squares.
The recipe says that it makes 100 manti. We never thought we'd get so many dumplings out of so little dough, but we were wrong. We easily made that number, which also meant that each individual dumpling needed to be filled and sealed. From start to finish, three hours had easily passed.
When it comes to the resulting manti, we have mixed news to report. The finished dumplings - though not as beautiful and as perfectly shaped as Martha's (surprise!) -- were still delicious. The yogurt and browned butter sauce in which they are served, however, was good, but not really to our taste.
The best part of making manti, as may be the case with many dumpling recipes when you're cooking with someone else, especially someone you love, is that it can be an excellent bonding experience, and not a bad way to fill a cold Friday night. Try the manti - we'd love to hear what you think.
Martha Stewart Living (February 2008)
Makes About 100: Serves 4 to 5
Each of these tiny dumplings is about the size of your fingertip, so you can easily serve 20 to 25 to each person. It's traditional to invite two or three friends to help fill and seal the manti; after all, many hands make light work. They can be frozen for up to 1 month.
For the Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
8 ounces ground lamb
1 medium yellow onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon course salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For Cooking and Serving:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt or labneh
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
3/4 teaspoon Turkish red pepper (Maras Biber; or papikra)
1. Make the dough: Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add egg. Using your hands, gently draw flour mixture into egg. Gradually add the cold water, and continue to work dough with your hands or a spoon until it forms a smooth paste.
2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Kneed until dough is smooth and springs back when pressed, 5 to 8 minutes. Divide dough into 2 balls, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3. Make the filling: Gently combine lamb, onion, parsley, salt and pepper. (Filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)
4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 portion of dough into a 16-by-10 inch oblong about 1/16 inch think. Using a ruler, cut dough into 1 1/4 inch squares with a pizza wheel or a paring knife. Keep remaining dough covered with a damp kitchen towel while you work.
5. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon filing in center of 1 dough square. Gently pull 2 opposite corners outward to stretch dough slightly, then pull up to meet in center, and pinch to seal. Repeat with remaining 2 corners, making sure all air has been pressed out. Pinch together all 4 corners to form a point, then pinch along all 4 seams to seal. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and cover with a damp kitchen towel. repeat. Remove towel, and cover with a piece of parchment. (Dumplings can be refrigerated on baking sheets, wrapped in plastic, for up to 1 day. Alternatively, freeze on baking sheets, uncovered, for 2 hours, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month.)
6. For cooking and serving: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Arrange manti in a single snug layer in the dish. Bake until fragrant and tops and corners are golden brown, about 25 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, bring stock, cinnamon, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a saucepan. Remove baking dish from oven, and add enough stock to dish so that all but the tops of the manti are submerged. Cover tightly with parchment and then foil, and bake until soft, about 2 minutes more.
8. Meanwhile, stir together yogurt or labneh and garlic paste in a medium bowl. When manti have finished cooking, tile baking dish, collect about 1/4 cup liquid with a ladle, and stir into yogurt sauce (sauce should be spoonable).
9. Melt remaining 7 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until amber, about 7 minutes.
10. Divide manti among shallow serving bowls. Spoon yogurt sauce over top, drizzle with browned butter, and spring with mint and red pepper.