A traditional Armenian dish of spiced meat stuffed pasta parcels, baked in the oven and dressed with brown butter passata and garlic yoghurt.
The old saying goes that the smaller you make your manti, the more it means you love the person you're making them for. This starts to make sense when you're shaping these fiddly little pasta parcels and delicately positioning them in interlocked patterns. It also makes sense when you take your first bite of these meaty morsels, slathered in creamy garlic yoghurt and tangy passata, crunchy from the oven and softened with hot stock. They're divine. I first learnt to make manti from Nouritza Matossian who taught a Zoom masterclass online with the Armenian Institute. She took us through the process of making the pasta dough, mixing the filling, crafting the manti, baking them in the oven and dressing them with the three different sauces. This recipe owes a lot to her. I've used a little creative licence with Nouritza's recipe and added a few additional elements (brown butter in the passata, crunchy pine nuts scattered on top, some spice in the lamb mix). I hope you give it a go!
For the dough:
- 180g plain white flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 3 tbsp of water
For the filling:
- 1 small onion, grated
- 250g lamb mince (or beef)
- a handful of chopped parsley
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp sumac or paprika
For the passata:
- 100g of butter
- 300ml passata
- pinch of pul beber (or chilli flakes)
For the garlic yoghurt:
- 200g of full fat Greek yoghurt
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt to taste
For the stock:
- 300ml stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- pine nuts (gently toasted)
- chopped parsley
1. To make the manti dough, mix together the flour and salt with the egg, olive oil and water until it comes together in a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead for ten minutes until you have a smooth, soft pasta dough. Don't worry if it's not super pliable at this point, it will relax down a little as it rests. Wrap it in clingfilm and leave out of the fridge for an hour or so.
2. Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl (lamb mince, grated onion, parsley, allspice, paprika), season and set aside.
3. To prepare the garlic sauce, mix together the greek yoghurt, minced garlic and olive oil. Set aside.
4. To prepare the stock. Heat your stock and add tomato paste and olive oil. Season to taste. Set aside.
5. Gently toast the pine nuts in a dry pan. Set aside.
6. To prepare the passata, melt and gently heat the butter until the solids separate. Then continue to heat the solids until they turn a light brown. Don't overheat them, you don't want burnt butter! When you've reached a gentle brown, add the pul beber and fry off, then add the passata and cook very gently until the sauce has reduced a little. Set aside.
7. Preheat your oven to 160°C.
8. After the dough has rested, roll it out with a rolling pin, or pasta machine, to your desired thickness (roughly the thickness of a 10p piece). Cut the pasta sheets into even squares. This is where you decide how much you love the person you're cooking for. The smaller the squares, the more intricate and delicate the manti will be. I aim for roughly 2 inch squares.
9. Place a small ball (roughly half a teaspoon) of the meat mixture in the middle of each pasta square. Fold the pasta square in half, and pinch together the two ends, leaving the meat filling exposed in the middle. Like a little canoe!
10. Arrange the manti in a baking dish or tray. Traditionally they're arranged in large concentric circles in circular trays. But you can create your own interlocking patterns in a regular rectangular tray too.
11. Bake the manti in your preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until they colour a little on top. Meanwhile, reheat your stock, passata and gently warm your yoghurt sauce (you don't want it fridge cold).
12. Remove the manti from the oven and pour hot stock into the baking dish so they're half submerged (you want the bottoms to absorb some of the stock, but to leave the tops a little crispy).
13. Dress the manti with dollops of passata, yoghurt sauce and a sprinkling of parsley and toasted pine nuts. Or serve the sauces in bowls at the table and allow people to add their own!
Don't forget to tag me @londoncooking if you give this a go.
I'd love to see the fruits of your labour!