"Manti" (steamed buns with lamb filling) is a traditional meat dish of the people of Central Asia, Turkey, Mongolia, Korea, as well as of the Tartars and Bashkir of Russia. It is believed that manti originates from the outer regions of China, where Uyghur people of Xinjiang region have a dish named “mantou” which literally means “steamed bread”. Gradually, the recipe of the dish has spread from Xinjiang through Central Asia and beyond. But even today, Uyghur cooks are considered to be the best manti specialists in the world.
This dish is popular in Russia and is usually served in any oriental restaurant. It is also easy to cook at home. Manti look like regular dumplings, however they are larger in size and cooked in certain way. Meat for the filling has to be cut by hand and can never be ground, since minced or ground meat loses all of its juice. Meat juice mixed with onions is the main taste component of manti, making it taste unlike any other dumplings.
This particular recipe is for the Uzbek manti which are typically stuffed with lamb, however, mixes of meats are also used. Vegetables can be added into the filling too – pumpkin, potato etc. Sometimes lamb fat is added into the mix. When the filling is wrapped in dough, the ends of square shaped sheet of dough are fastened cross-wise, like an envelope. Layers of dough should be very thin. Manti are served with spicy sauces and a vegetable salad made of tomatoes, peppers and garlic dressed with vegetable oils. Enjoy!
For more Russian recipes, visit Russian Cuisine page.
For the dough:
- 5 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 1/4 cups of warm water
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp of salt
For the filling:
- 2 lb. lamb or beef, finely diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- melted butter to brush the manti
- sour cream to serve
- fresh herbs to serve
To make a dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine together flour and salt. Pour the warm water, melted butter and egg. Mix everything well and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 20 minutes. The ideal dough should be silky and elastic, but not too soft.
In the meantime, make the filling. In a large bowl combine lamb or beef, onions, salt and spices. Mix well and set aside.
When the dough is well-rested, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Cut the dough in half. Cover the other half with a plastic wrap. Flatten the one you are working on with your fingers. Lightly sprinkle with flour when needed to prevent from sticking. Using a rolling pin, roll out the thickness of the dough about 1/8 of an inch. If you have a pasta maker you may use it to roll the dough.
Cut into 4 inch squares. Place one tablespoon of the filling on top of each sheet. Connect two opposite corners by slightly pinching them together. Repeat the process with the other corners. At this point the dumpling should look like a small envelope. Now connect the adjacent corners together by pinching them together. Repeat the process on the opposite side.
Note: I am sorry that I don't have step-by-step photos for this recipe. You don't have to make exactly the same shape. They would be delicious in any shape you do.
Place the manti on top of the lightly oiled steamer disks, leaving a 1/2 inch space between them. Set the timer and steam for about 45 minutes. When manti are done turn off the heat and remove all the manti. Lightly brush the manti with butter. Serve immediately with sour cream and fresh herbs.