Mantı, The Turkish and Armenian Delicacy Everyone Should Make

The roots of everyday Turkish cuisine, as opposed to the court cuisine, are found in the Turkic tribes of the Central Asia and perhaps the pre-existing Greek inhabitants of Anatolia.  As the Turkish food authority Nevin Halıcı suggests, a study of the food habits of contemporary Kazan Turks and Tatars might indicate a close relationship between the Turkish foods of today and their historical roots.  Mantı certainly seems a likely candidate.  Mantı predate the earliest appearance of ravioli in the European Mediterranean and it is possible that the concept of ravioli derives from this Central Asian precedent.

The Turkish word mantı appears to derive from the Chinese via the Uighuric language of a Turkic tribe in eighth-century Sinkiang.  Mantı is easily translated as “Turkish ravioli,” although Turkish wonton might be more appropriate, and even then that description does not capture the painstaking process of making these miniature wontons.  The dish consists of small wontons of meat served with a yogurt-and-garlic sauce with melted red chile butter.  It is traditionally served at room temperature or warm, not hot.

Armenians also eat mantı and you are likely to find them in the frozen food freezer of such a market in the communities where people of Armenian extraction mostly live, in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California.  One California company that makes them is Ohanyan’s Pistirma and Soujouk Company in Fresno, CA. Or go directly to an on-line market. Alternatively, an excellent substitute are the small meat wontons sold in Chinese groceries, although the smallest Chinese wontons are still about twice as large as the Turkish mantı.  As a last resort use small Italian tortellini.

Manti,
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Stuffed Pasta
Cuisine: Turkish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound mantı
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quart full-fat plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease a baking pan and arrange the mantı on the bottom in a single layer. Bake, uncovered, until golden, about 25 minutes. Pour in the broth and continue cooking for another 15 minutes without turning.
  3. In a mortar, pound the garlic and salt together until mushy. Stir into the yogurt and continue stirring until creamy. Melt the butter in a small pan, then stir in the cayenne and paprika. Pour the yogurt over the wontons, drizzle the melted butter on top, and serve.

 

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