Thank your manti-maker

Robin Mather

Dumplings from every culture are labor-intensive. There’s just no getting around that, and if someone sets a plate of dumplings before you, I hope you appreciate the work that went into them.

Of all the dumplings I know, manti, the little lamb-filled, open-face dumplings, please me most.

The Turks claim them most loudly, but I learned about manti from Armenian friends during my Detroit days, so for me, they will always be Armenian.

My nickel-size manti would never please a critical Turkish future mother-in-law — tradition says she’d only be impressed with manti so tiny that 40 would fit in a spoon. Sometimes I make much larger manti — the size of the familiar Chinese pot sticker — and steam them as the Chinese often do.

In traditional kitchens,

women would gather to prepare dishes such as manti. They might gossip over the thin, eggy dough and fragrant lamb filling, complain about their kinfolk or celebrate one another’s good fortune. After all, many hands make light work. In dumpling-making, there’s work for everyone, from the learner to the expert.

Armenian-style Manti

These nickel-size, canoe-shaped dumplings are labor-intensive, so feel free to skip the dough recipe here and substitute fresh egg roll wrappers (each sheet cut into 9 pieces) or wonton wrappers (each sheet cut into 4 pieces). Traditionally, the manti are added to a piping bowl of chicken broth after baking, but I don’t bother with that and just bake them smooshed together, then serve in squares with the garlicky yogurt. The sumac, while optional, offers a pop of color and lemon-bright flavor.

Prep: 2 hours

Cook: 25-35 minutes

Makes: 4 to 6 servings, about

140 dumplings


1 large egg

3 to 5 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons melted butter

11/2 cups flour (plus 2-4 tablespoons more if needed, for rolling)


1 pound ground lamb

1 medium onion, grated

1 small bunch parsley, minced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

Pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons butter, melted


1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt, thinned with 1 tablespoon water

2 cloves garlic, very finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

Ground sumac, optional

For the dough: Combine egg, water, salt, melted butter and flour in a food processor. Start with the smaller amount of water and add the remainder if needed to make the dough come together. Whiz until a dough forms. Tip out of the food processor onto a flour-dusted board and knead briefly. Let rest, covered, for 30 minutes to allow the dough to relax.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Combine the ground lamb, onion, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Cut the dough into four pieces; work with one portion at a time, leaving remaining balls of dough covered. Roll the dough ball out into a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Cut the dough into squares about 11/2 inches on each side. (Or, if using egg roll wrappers or wonton wrappers, proceed after cutting as directed above.) Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each square. Dab each end of the

rectangle with water and then pinch the two ends with your fingers to form a canoe-shaped pastry, leaving the top open.

Arrange the manti close together, meat-side up, in a well-buttered shallow baking dish. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Pour the melted butter over the manti. Refrigerate or freeze for later baking, if desired.

At baking time, heat oven to

350 degrees; bake until the manti are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

While the manti bake, make the sauce: Combine the yogurt, garlic and salt in a mixing bowl.

To serve, cut the baked manti into squares like lasagna. Dribble the garlicky yogurt over the manti, and sprinkle with ground sumac. Serve immediately.