Every culture seems to have their own dumpling. Armenians have manti, little boats, usually stuffed with ground lamb or beef. Out of the oven, they are golden, crunchy and savory. Then, they are thrown into a broth lightly blushed with tomato and topped with a dollop of yogurt. This soup is warming, comforting and very filling.
Making manti was a family production. My sisters and I would join our Mom in the kitchen and we’d all have a hand in creating these little boats. Our Mom usually handled the dough (don’t get scared off yet, there is a super easy shortcut that doesn’t involve you making any dough at all!). We all worked around the table together filling and pinching (and talking and laughing, loudly, I’m sure) until trays and trays of the manti made their way in and out of the oven burning the fingers of those of us eager to test them.
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic minced (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, allspice, 1 tablespoon of the tomato paste and salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread out some waxed paper on a counter or table to protect the surface. Keep the wonton wraps under a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. You’ll need a small bowl of water for each person helping out. I like to work in batches. I lay out about ten to fifteen squares at a time, then using a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon I drop that amount of the meat mixture onto each square. Dip your fingers in the bowl of water, wet the outer edge of each square of dough and bring up the sides, pinch together while pushing down toward the table to create the little boats you see in the picture. Place each manti onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Continue until you’ve used all of the meat mixture.
Bake the manti on the center rack in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until crispy, golden and crunchy. My oven can be very uneven, so I check often and rotate the sheet halfway through.
While the manti are baking, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and a bit of pepper if needed.
Once the manti have baked, you can immediately throw them in to the pot of broth. I like to take the pot off of the heat and let them sit for maybe 5 minutes.
Serve in bowls topped off with a healthy dollop of the yogurt. You can mix the minced garlic into the yogurt if desired. That is the traditional way to eat it. Personally, I like it plain.
- The wonton wraps come in 3 inch squares. Cut them in half in both directions to get 1 1/2 inch squares.
- You can make batches of the dumplings and freeze them for later use. Just make sure to pre-freeze them on the baking tray for about a half hour in your freezer after they have cooled completely. Then put them in a zipper bag.
- The bowl used in the photo above deserves some credit! For the past several years, my friend Pat and I attend a fundraiser called Empty Bowls http://www.emptybowls.net Their purpose is to raise funds to end hunger. Potters donate some beautiful bowls in which guests are served soup. The guests take their empty bowls home to remind them of the cause. Pat was kind enough to give me her bowl…I think she knew I was eyeing it up! So, if you are interested, you can go to their site to see if there is an Empty Bowls event in your area.