Manti in a post shared by Andrew Janjigian (@wordloaf)

Manti or mante is a traditional Armenian dish; the closest Lebanese or Syrian equivalent to manti is  shish barak, yet they are definitely not the same. Shish barak are meat-stuffed dumplings cooked in a yogurt-based sauce.

“Manti is a type of  dumpling popular in most cuisines of the Central Asia, West Asia, South Caucasus, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. Manti is also popular among  Chinese Muslims,  and it is consumed throughout post-Soviet countries, where the dish spread from the Central Asian republics. The dumplings typically consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually  lamb or ground beef, wrapped in a thin dough sheet which is then boiled or steamed. The size and shape of manti vary significantly depending on geographic location.”*

“According to an Armenian researcher, manti first reached Cilician Armenia as a result of the cultural interaction between Armenians and Mongols during their alliance in or around the 13th century. Migrating Turkic-speaking peoples brought the dumpling with them to Anatolia, where it evolved into the Turkish manti. However, some researchers do not discount the possibility that manti may have originated in the Middle East and spread eastward to China and Korea through the Silk Road.”

Andrew Janjigian, a freelance journalist, recipe developer, and alum of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated based in Cambridge, Mass., grew up eating manti with his family every Christmas Eve. He says, “Up until a few years ago, eating manti was a Christmas Eve ritual for my extended Armenian family. For weeks before the holiday, the women in the family would gather together on weekends at my Aunt Esther’s house to make the tiny dumplings, which they’d then freeze. Hours and hours (and hours) of work went into making enough manti to feed a few dozen people a meal they’d been looking forward to eating all year long. And then it would be over, and we’d all have to wait another year.”**

“Manti are common to many Central and West Asian cuisines, small parcels of spiced ground lamb or beef surrounded by thin wheat dough wrappers that are typically steamed or boiled. However, Armenian manti, sometimes called ‘sini manti,’ are a little different. The diminutive, canoe-shaped, and open-faced dumpling are baked until crisp instead, and are served in a tomato-infused meat broth, finished with a dollop of yogurt, minced garlic, and a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper and sumac powder. To me, this the ultimate manti, since the combination of flavors and textures is unparalleled: crunchy-crisp dumplings, their corners softened gently by the hot, aromatic broth, paired with the cool, tart yogurt, all of it brightened by lightly spicy, fruity, and tart garnishes,” he adds.

Manti (YepRecipes Photo)

As writer Maggie Schmitt said in 2009, “So for the moment let us put aside whether manti came thundering across the Asian steppes with Genghis and Timur, or landed on Ararat with Noah and family. They were once served in neighboring houses, Turkish, Armenian, and Kurdish, in all the cities and towns of Eastern Anatolia. The same sheets of pasta are rolled out now on both sides of that hostile border, as well as in homes in Aleppo, Beirut, Boston, Los Angeles. They are testimony to a long legacy of cultural entanglements, mirror of a diverse population, and work of a millennium of mothers’ attentions to what is good and fine. Manti, then, for the peacemakers: in hopes that they might be as honest, as flexible and as persistent as this dish.”***

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YepRecipes features a variety of dishes from around the world, and though you may find some classic and traditional dishes, they also like to put a twist on some of those recipes to make them a little healthier. And although not entirely omitted, they do try to limit ingredients such as refined sugars and processed foods. These days you can easily find these traditional dumplings in every Armenian or Middle Eastern market or deli, but here’s a short-cut recipe from YepRecipes that uses wonton wrappers:



1 egg yolk

6 oz. ground beef

1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon onion, grated and squeezed dry



12 wonton wrappers

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

1/3 cup beef broth

Olive oil spray


Paprika Sauce:

1/8 cup red peppers, diced

1/8 cup yellow peppers, diced

1/8 cup yellow onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon flour

1/2 cups chicken broth


Yogurt Sauce:

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spray an 8-inch oven proof skillet or baking dish with olive oil spray and set aside.

In a small bowl combine all the filling ingredients and mix well.

Remove the wonton wrappers from the package and cut each into quarters. Keep covered with a dry towel with a damp towel over the dry towel to prevent them from drying out.

Combine the egg white with the water and set to the side. Line your work space with wax paper for easy clean up.

Working with a few pieces at a time brush each with egg wash. Place a tiny dollop (about 1/4 teaspoon) of the meat mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper. Seal each of the sides by pinching them together. The top will gape open revealing a little of the meat filling. Place the dumpling into the baking dish. Repeat until you run out of filling. Space the dumplings close together and fill the dish completely in a circular pattern.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 12 minutes.

In the meantime start the paprika sauce: Sauté the onions and peppers in a small pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the paprika and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Turn down heat if needed. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and stir together. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and season if needed.

Once dumplings have cooked for the 12 minutes remove pan from oven and turn it up to 400°F. Carefully add the beef broth to the pan. Spray the tops of the dumplings with olive oil spray and bake for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime mix all the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a small bowl. When the dumplings come out, the liquid should be absorbed and the tops of the dough should be crisp. If not flash them under the broiler until they are crisp. Top with paprika sauce and yogurt sauce, and serve.




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