Manti – an authentic Uzbek dish (манты)

Manti on a platter

Manti on a platter

I (and my family) have been craving this staple of Uzbek cooking for more than a decade, maybe even as long as 15 years. You see, this isn’t a dish you make every day or even every weekend.  This is a dish for special occasions.  It requires absolutely the freshest lamb, from a butcher shop, not a grocery store, and a specific steamer (мантышница).  Since there are no Uzbek restaurants where I live, not even a decent middle-eastern or central-asian restaurant, so we couldn’t even go out and get this dish. The dish is juicy, flavorful, scrumptious, recognizable by the “number 8” design on top, and completely depends on fresh ingredients. It does take about 4 hours to make, from starting the dough until you taste your first deliciously luscious manta (manti is plural of manta). Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

So we were very excited when a new friend offered to show me how to make these delicious morsels.  How could I pass up such an offer, especially from someone who would show me the authentic way to do this (yes, she is an Uzbek, from Uzbekistan).  Doesn’t get better than that when it comes to authenticity of food.  She made everything from scratch, and I helped chop some things.  Since I don’t have the exact amounts of what we did, I do have a recipe that explains the basics of the mechanics.

But first, a few tips.
Tip 1. No, there is no substitute for the fat. If you’re uncomfortable with it, just don’t make the dish.
Tip 2. DON’T drink anything cold WHILE eating it or AFTER. You can get serious stomach issues.
Tip 3. Drink hot green tea during or after the meal. Skip the soda. Seriously.
Tip 4. Some people like to dunk manti into vinegar, so it’s an option.

Ingredients for filling:
Lamb – 500grams
Lamb fat – 50 grams (DON’T SKIP THIS!)
Onions – 4-6 medium
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin – to taste

Ingredients for dough:
All purpose white flour – 400 g
Water – 1/2 cup
Salt

Steps for the Dough:
1. Salt the water to be saltier than what you think is salty enough. Add the salted water to the flour and mix until the dough comes together. Since the last time I made dough I was about 15 and I don’t really remember any nuances about making dough. When talking to Nora, the friend who was making these scrumptious packets, she said that dough can be finicky and the amount of water depends on the how dry the flour is and such things.
2. When the dough comes together, separate it into 2 equal parts and let rest for about half an hour.
3. Kneed the dough until until it’s all soft and no more lumps are visible.
4. Roll it out to be very thin (not too thin, but thin enough to steam the meat mixture that will go inside, about 1/4 of an inch, or slightly less).
5. Cut the dough into about 3 inch squares. If the squares aren’t exact, that’s OK.

Lumpy dough

Lumpy dough

Lumpy dough resting

Lumpy dough resting

Rested dough, ready to roll

Rested dough, ready to roll

 

 

 

 

 

Steps for the meat:
When we got the lamb from the butcher, we got it in sections about 1-2 pounds in weight and still on the bone.

1. Our first task was to dice the meat into very small pieces, about 1/16th inch in size. Dice/Mince the fat too.  None of that ground meat some recipes call for.  This isn’t “pel’meni” (Russian style tortellini).
2. Dice/mince the onion to be in very small pieces, but don’t use the grater or a food processor. You want pieces of onion, not just onion juice and pulp.
3. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin.
4. Mix all together. Though the ingredients state that there should be about 10% of fat to lamb ratio, but Nora suggests more like 30%. So that’s what we did. The fat gives the juice/moisture/flavor when the packets are steamed.

Small dice of lamb

Small dice of lamb

Another view of lamb diced

Another view of lamb diced

 

 

 

 

 
Steps for assembling:
1. Spoon the meat mixture into the center of the dough square.
2. Fold 2 opposite sides of the dough so they meet above the meat mixture.
3. Fold the other 2 sides just like in Step 2. Now you should have all sides folded up above the meat mixture and you have 4 corners.
4. Put your finger to one of the side and fold 2 corners so they meet.
5. Do the same Step 4 on the opposite side. The top should look like it has a an “8” on the top.

Filling on Dough - Step 1

Filling on Dough - Step 1

Folded Manta - Step 3

Folded Manta - Step 3

Folded sides - Step 4

Folded sides - Step 4

Finished Manta

Finished Manta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To cook, place these assembled manti into a special steamer (мантышница). Mine has 4 tiers, a main pot for the water to boil in, and a lid. Fill the main pot with about 8-10 cups of water and boil. Let it boil for about 45 minutes, and manti should be all ready. I’ll update the post once I have a picture of the steamer.

Here I’m sacrificing a few manti to show you the inside. Please keep in mind that these are picked up by hand and if you can put the whole thing in your mouth, do. You don’t want any of the juice escaping. 🙂

 

 

Open manti

Open manti

Close-up of an open manta

Close-up of an open manta

Juicy manti

Juicy manti

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35 responses to “Manti – an authentic Uzbek dish (манты)

  1. I have tried that recipe. It is delicous everybody should try 🙂

  2. Вот пойдут, Бог даст, у папы дела получше – и нагрянем мы всей аравой канадской к вам в гости, и на манты твои тоже.

  3. Can you tell where I can buy the steamer for manty?

  4. Sasha,
    I really wish I knew where to buy one. We brought this one with us from Tashkent. We are still trying to find a kazan so we can make plov, and are very unsuccessful at finding that too.

  5. I found my steamer at Oriental store, here in WA. I use it often and it works great. So , check your chines stores they should have them.

  6. I’ve been looking for an Uzbekh manti recipe for long. Now I’ve finally found one. My brother-in-law has lived in Uzbekhistan for a couple of years studying medicine. He loves Uzbekh food and talks about it all the time.

    • Hi, I’m glad you found my blog. I love Uzbek food; to me, it’s the best. There’s really no comparison with any other style of food.

  7. Steamer is not a problem for us (we brought one)… The problem is the lamb fat (or to be more accurate tail fat) (курдючное сало) – you can’t buy it in US. So could you please explain what did you mean by “lamb fat”? 

    • Hi,
      Yes, you’re right, that type of fat is not possible to find in the U.S. (at least, we haven’t been able to find it). The fat we use is the general fat off the lamb.

  8. Velikolepno!!!!!

  9. About steamer;you can ask in Asian markets/like Korean,some Chinese,Vietnamese/just ask for stainless steal-I asked and they order it for me and my daughters.

  10. did any one know how to cock ‘khanum’- dough rolled with meat and vegetables and steamed ?

    • Hi Natalya,
      No, I’m not familiar with that dish. But I do remember my grandma making “belyashi”, a meat mixture that’s enclosed in dough and deep fried.

    • Hi Natalya!
      “Khanum” is a “lazy manty”. Everything is the same only instead of cutting rolled dough on small squares you spread your meat ( you can add any vegetables you want ) roll it like a jellyroll, make it round and put on the on the steamer’s pan. You can cook several rolls at the same time just like you cook manty – 40 min.
      and my question – did you order your steamer in New York? Because i live in Maine.

      • Hi Sasha,
        Thanks for explaining what Khanum is. We brought our steamer with us from Tashkent, but I do wonder where I can get a “kazan” for plov. Can’t find it online or in a store where I live. Any ideas?

  11. I think the enameled cust-iron casseroles will do just fine. It’s expensive but it’ll last for many-many years. I brought my kazan from Tashkent.

  12. Я была в Харисонбург -Виржиния И купила там в корейском магазине ..Заказала ещё и моя сестра забрала.А подруга жила в Стейт Колледже- Пенсельвания-тоже купила и себе и дочерям../мы из Чимкента/…Казан я купила не с плоским дном ,а с закругленным-на Украине,как те что на базарах пользовали,только поменьше-ведерный../Он не становится на електрическую плиту/Готовлю в нём на газовой плитке /с баллоном/.Здесь люди как-то в Нюйорке на Брайтон Бичь покупали-но где ?-точно не знаю…

  13. Спасибо за пояснение относительно Кханум-всё время думала,что это отдельное блюдо….Мама рассказала Бабушкин рецепт-тесто как на манты,А начинка-1 порция рубленного фарша,1/2 порции-тертой моркови,1/2 порции шинкованного лука,1/2 порции шинкованной капусты/можно и без неё-на любителя/и 1/2 порции тёртой картошки/картошку сразу сбрызнуть олоивковым или любым постным маслом-чтобы быстро не чернела/соль- перец по вкусу,Выложить на раскатанное тесто слоем в 1-см.,Скрутить рулетом ,И выложить на смазанный кружок -подковкой..И точно как вы сказали -на 40 минут варить.Я уже попробовала-получилось как у Бабушки-и семье понравилось-Ещё раз спасибо…

    • Thanks! That sounds delicious. I’ll have to give it a try one of these days. Is the dough then rolled up with the meat mixture in it, like the recipe for “lepyoshka” that I have on the site?

  14. If anyone needs to buy the authentic Manti steamer or “kazan” for plov, email me. I live in Queens N.Y. which is THE place to buy them. I can put them on ebay if anyone’s interested in buying!

    • Hello Roza. How is everything? I am interested to buying manti steamer and “kazan” for plov. Can you put in E-bay I will really appreciated. Or, would you please send me the address where I can buy them. Thank You very much. Zarina.

  15. Roza, пожалуйста, не могли бы вы сказать где в Queens можно купить мантышницу. У меня сестра живет в NY и она смогла бы купить для меня. Заранее спасибо!

  16. Sasha,
    Privet, I bought it on 108st in queens in one of the smaller gift shops where they sell nice dishes.
    I will take note of the store’s name the next time I pass by it, and post it on-line.

    Hi Zarina,
    Everything is great! Thank you for asking. I will have it on ebay within a week.

    -roza

  17. Roza! Если мантышница выглядит как на этом сайте http://ozmarket.ru/index.php?productID=1820 я тоже могла бы купить через e-bay. Спасибо.

  18. MAN I LOVE THESE. I was dying to make these. My dad’s second wife was from Kazakhstan, she made those, they rocked. But I have to go an extra mile to get lamb fat, I don’t really eat pork, all I’ve got is beef, and I am afraid that is going to be too dry. Is there any way to make them with beef and not be dry?

    • I don’t know about using beef…. We generally get lamb from a Greek store where we’ve been going for about 20 years and the owner doesn’t trim the fat. It’s not “kurdyuk”, the traditional fat of the lamb, but we get enough and it works out OK. I suppose if you use beef fat that might work as well. I don’t eat pork either. I don’t know if you shop for meat in the store, but maybe the butcher would have some extra lamb fat…

  19. Well I don’t generally buy any meat, either raising it on my farm (beef), or shooting it in the wild (venison) – and lamb is not commonly available here. However, I know a lamb farmer and I bet they would be able to sell me a suitable piece. Of course, I have a real issue buying meat when I can use what I already have in the freezer… I guess the key here is to get enough fat into the mix. I just keep thinking, if I make it with beef and mix in some butter or cream or something, what’s the worst thing that could happen? It’s not going to be like in the Old Country… but sadly that’s the case with all of my food. I guess that’s my way to adapt?

    • LOL. Yeah, I know what you mean. I’d love to know how your experiment turns out. Maybe lots of onion would be a good thing too since it adds so much flavor/liquid. Since I live in an apartment-style building, I can’t really grow anything, so I found a few good local meat producers at farmers markets and I get most of the meat from them. But lamb… so expensive!

  20. I love manti, and this is a great authentic recipe! Too bad that fresh lamb is not always available in stores here, in the US.
    However, there are so many variations you can experiment with! You can leave out the fat, and use beef instead of lamb, and it still would be a great dish. I usually make a filling from beef (not ground, but minced), onions and squash. I don’t add animal fat at all, but instead I add some canola oil and a little bit of water. I know that it is far from a real manti recipe, but it is a healthy, low fat and very tasty dish. I use a two layered Korean dumpling steamer, as I don’t have mantyshnica.

  21. I’m so glad you posted this recipe; I’ve been looking online for sometime for one. My mom couldn’t remember how you make it and I’ve been begging her for it for years. She found very similar ones in other places, but they never seemed to taste quite the same.
    So, Thanks!

  22. Great recipe! And I like that you are honest about ‘lamb fat’ and not drinking cold drinks with it! I tell my friends the same thing – otherwise everything will freeze in their stomachs! I make my manty with pumpkins and lamb, for lamb fat I go to halal butchers. I am from Kyrgyzstan, and Khanym is Oromo in KG. I make it with juusai (Chinese chives, any Asian market will have them) and butter. Vegetarians (so many of them on the West Coast) love it.

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