If there are any words to describe this recipe, these are the ones that come to mind: decadent, rich, hearty, flavorful. Homemade manti is a traditional Turkish dish - ground lamb (or beef, if you prefer) is seasoned and stuffed into little dumplings and then topped with a garlic yogurt sauce, a spicy tomato sauce, and a drizzle of good quality olive oil. It is one of my favorite dishes, one that I ate over and over when visiting Istanbul years ago.
This dish definitely takes quite a bit of effort, and I find that making everything from scratch makes it all the more extraordinary. To me, it's worth it - because it isn't something that you can typically find in a restaurant or local neighborhood joint. So even though you're making your dough from scratch and filling each one piece by piece, you can do each each step in pieces and make enough that you have leftover dumplings to freeze for later use.
The first step is to take some ground lamb and add a lot of chopped parsley, finely minced onion, and salt to season everything and combine everything together. I added a tablespoon of cumin powder; it isn't traditional to the dish but I find that cumin and lamb always go so well together. Set this aside in your fridge while you prepare the other ingredients.
Note: You want to make sure your onions are chopped as fine as possible. Because the dumplings aren't very large, if the chopped onion is too big, it makes it hard to seal the dumpling shut.
The second step is to prepare the yogurt sauce - which is also super simple and will take just a couple of minutes. I like to buy full fat Greek yogurt for this recipe. Take 3-4 garlic cloves and roughly chop them before adding them to the yogurt. You can finely chop the garlic, but I actually enjoy the little bite and the crunchiness the garlic cloves give when they're mixed into the rest of the dish.
Add some salt, and mix everything together, and set this aside.
Next, we make our dough from scratch. And trust me - you're going to be SO proud of yourself that you did. It is very similar to Italian pasta, as the ingredients include all-purpose flour, eggs, salt, and warm water. Once you crack the egg and break the yolk, mix everything with a fork to incorporate the flour, and then knead everything together for 6-7 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl covered with a damp cloth for 45 minutes or so to let it rest.
THEN THE FUN PART BEGINS!
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and then roll it out on a floured surface until its nice and thin (you almost want it opaque). I prefer to make the dumplings larger so they hold more of the ground lamb, and it's also less to prepare. Cut squares using a pizza cutter, about 2 inches x 2 inches each. Add the ground lamb in the middle, and dip your finger in a bowl of water and run it around the edges of each square. This really helps seal the dumplings shut, so don't miss this step!
FINALLY, assembling everything together! Place the dumplings in a large pot of salted, boiling water for 15-20 minutes until the pasta is tender and the lamb is cooked through (you can poke one open just to double check this is the case).
While the dumplings are cooking, take a smaller pot over medium heat and add olive oil, crushed red chilis, and then add a can tomato paste in. Mix everything together and add salt and paprika, and set aside.
TO PLATE: Add your yogurt mixture to the plate. Place the dumplings on top, and then add some more yogurt mixture. Place a few dollops of the spicy tomato sauce, drizzle additional olive oil, and garnish with some sea salt. Serve and enjoy!