Manti (Turkish Dumplings)

Last week I wrote briefly about the Turkish cooking classes at the Atlas Foundation in Metairie. We decided this week to reproduce and improve a recipe we learned during the first week of class. While we enjoyed the Turkish Manti, a steamed beef dumpling, we thought that a few more ingredients would punch up the flavor and make a better dumpling. We substituted ground lamb for beef and added two simple but flavorful ingredients; garlic and mint.

The only trouble was tracking down the immense Turkish filo dough necessary for the recipe. Turkish filo, unlike the traditional flakey layers we are familiar with, is thick, round and tougher in that it does not easily split when dry and does not need the constant attention and moisture of the traditional filo. After more than one stop at international markets throughout the greater New Orleans area, we tracked some down at Mona’s Cafe and Deli on Banks Street. One package of Yufka from Mona’s contains three large sheets of dough, more then enough to complete this recipe.

Once we had our Yufka we set to work recreating the dish, as well as cooking taboule, tzatziki and roasted eggplant to accompany the dumplings.

Manti (Turkish Dumplings) (serves 8 )

2 Turkish filo dough leaves
1 stick butter, melted
2 lb ground lamb
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large potatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced mint
2 tbps cumin
10 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper

In a large mixing bowl combine the ground lamb, chopped garlic, onion, potatoes, mint, cumin and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are fully combined.

Melt the butter in a small bowl.

When your stuffing is complete, lay out one Yufka and brush the top with melted butter. Carefully, with you fingers, place one half the meat mixture on the top of the butter and press down until flat and evenly distributed. It should resemble a large pizza. Roll the filo dough into a long tube and place into the top of a steamer that has been lightly greased. Repeat with the second round of filo and second half of the meat. Place the second Yufka tightly inside of the first in the steamer. Bring the water to a boil and steam the dumplings for 40 minutes. Carefully turn the dumpling out on a serving platter. Cut into slices and top with tzatziki. Serve while still warm.