Manti: Turkish Lamb Dumplings

Lamb Dumplings

This is an amazing recipe out of the March issue of Saveur. I saw it at the store and was immediately intrigued by what I thought was a big block of hard Irish cheese on the cover alongside some dark bread. It is, you see, an issue devoted to the foods of Ireland. Upon further contemplation at home, however, I have come to the conclusion that the block of pale yellow to the left of the bread is some butter. A little disappointing, but I’m sure the bread and butter are still good. Although, if I had done the cover, the bread and cheese would have been accompanied by a pint of Guinness.

Anyway, while leafing through the magazine, I saw a recipe and article (on page 20), not for an Irish delicacy, but a Turkish one. “Mad for Manti: These Turkish Dumplings Prove Highly Addictive.”

Why, yes, they do.

This dish is most prevalent in Anatolia, a region of Turkey with huge archaeological importance, including the site of Çatalhöyük. This, besides being a Neolithic settlement dating from about 7500 BC, is a really fun word to say. (Ca-tal-ya-hook). It was an active site up until the Bronze Age and had a smaller settlement during the Byzantine Empire. This is a good book if anyone is interested.

But, let’s get back to the dumplings. I took a shortcut with my stock and used packaged, free range chicken broth that I simmered with a cinnamon stick and a few cloves. I thought this worked well, but I’ve summarized the recipe to make your own stock at the end of this post. I also added some chopped tomatoes and caramelized onions to my version.

Manti — Turkish Lamb Dumplings
(from the March Issue of Saveur)
1 package (about 3.5 – 4 cups) chicken broth (Imagine or Pacific are good brands)
4 black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 2/3 cups flour (I used AP)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb ground lamb
1/2 a white onion, diced
2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp butter
2 tomatoes, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 cups thick, strained yogurt (or Greek style yogurt)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh mint
1 tbsp Urfa chili flakes (or crushed red pepper flakes)
Olive oil

Add the stock to a large pot and add the peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns and reserve stock.

Put the eggs, flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup water in a bowl and mix until a ball forms (1-2 minutes). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 4 balls and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rest 30 minutes.

Sauté onion in a pan over medium heat, with one teaspoon olive oil. Let cook for about 20 minutes, until onions are caramelized and golden.

Meanwhile, combine lamb, parsley, remaining salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover and set aside.

Roll one ball of dough out to a 11 X 11 inch square. Okay, so my dough was more of a rectangular shape. I think the main thing here is to roll it out, keep it kind of thin, and trim the edges so that you have a clean shape, be it a square or rectangle.

Cut the rolled out dough into 1 ” X 1″ squares. Put about 1/8 – 1/4 tsp of filling in the center of each square. I found it helpful to divide my lamb mixture into 4 equal sections, so that I knew how much filling to use for the four original balls of dough.


Pull (and stretch a little) the opposite two corners of the square to the middle. Pinch to seal.


Now, fold the other two corners to the middle and pinch those to seal as well. You should now have a little dumpling! Repeat this process for the squares you have rolled out. Then roll out the other three balls and repeat. I piled all of my dumplings in a single layer, on a big plate. I ended up getting about 12 dumplings from each roll — so, my total was about 48.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a casserole dish and place dumplings into a single layer. Cover with sautéed onions. Bake until dumplings are golden, about 30 minutes.


Pour stock over dumplings and onions, cover with foil, and bake until much of the stock has been absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

Combine yogurt with a pinch of salt and minced garlic cloves. Set aside. When dumplings are done, place some chopped tomato in each serving bowl. Cover with some dumplings and sauce. Add a scoop of the garlicky yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil. In the original recipe, they drizzled clarified butter over the dumplings instead of olive oil. Sprinkle each dish with some of the chili flakes and mint to complete the dish.


Sit down and enjoy!

To make your own stock
Combine 1 lb. skinless chicken pieces, 1 carrot, celery rib, 1 leek, 1 onion, chopped, 2 sprigs parsley, 4 peppercorns, 3 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 tbsp of rice in a pot with 9 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Season to taste with salt. Strain and reserve about 4 cups of the stock for this recipe.

16 Replies to “Manti: Turkish Lamb Dumplings”

  1. Oh my god, those look fantastic! Your pierogies worked really well for me, so I can’t wait to try these!

  2. Awesome recipe. Thank you for posting it, complete with pictures! I get hungry every time I read the page. And since I am a great conservator of energy (lazybones) I used wonton wrappers instead of making the dough from scratch. The results were just as delicious. Fresh lasagna sheets from the supermarket also work very well 🙂

  3. Ana:
    Glad you like the recipe. We are having cold, rainy weather here again, so I think I’ll make these for dinner again this Friday night.
    Hey,wonton wrappers or fresh lasagna sheets are a great idea! 🙂

  4. I also added cilantro instead of parsley into my meat mixture. Oooh, it was good! I hope you’ll try it too.

  5. Kelly:
    I think you will really like these!
    Oh and I agree about the chicken with walnuts. In fact, jwa just requested that for his birthday meal so he really likes it too 🙂

  6. The manti were amazing, and even better as cold leftovers dunked in leftover yogurt mixture. Stunning recipe M!

  7. I grew up eating these. My grandmother who is Armenian grew up in Turkey(up until the Genocide). I now make it for my non Armenian husband. I love this dish. Each family makes it diffently.

  8. Manti is Armenian not Turkish. Traditionally these are made less as individual pieces… but as a loosely attached lattice of individual manti with butter melted over the top, and with a yogurt sauce. (but my family uses sour cream)

  9. You are the best!. I was in Istanbul a couple last month and it is one of Turkish national dishes. Let’s not get political here and enjoy the beauty of culinary arts. Some foods are shared by many countries and Kayseri is where these are originally from. Variations can be accommodated to our personal palates and I congratulate you for posting such a tasty treat!!!

  10. What about making them without the wonton wrappers or home-made dough–like small lamb meatballs in the yogurt sauce with the other sauce on top?

  11. Katherine: You could try it. You might need to add something like breadcrumbs and an egg to bind the meatballs together better…I dunno. I’d maybe just find a lamb meatball recipe and hen make the stock and yogurt here to go with the actual lamb meatball recipe…

  12. Thanks for the suggestion of breadcrumbs. And what about the pepper-y (or maybe paprika-y butter sauce that I often hear described when people talk about manti? Do you add that? more question: I have had aushak in an Afghan restaurant and wonder if they are related?

  13. Recipe sounds yummy! I buy manti in Fairfax, VA from a Turkish market called Amity. I grew up in turkey experimenting with manti’s sauce, however, and I have a recipe that is basically cheating because it’s sssooo delicious your manti will taste great in it no matter what!!
    For each portion of manti:
    1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tablespoon ketchup.
    dump all on a pan (butter on the bottom) and stir on medium heat. the peppers will glaze (color will darken just a bit) and ketchup will first mix into butter, then start to lump a bit. that’s when it’s ready. mix your yoghurt in your manti and pour the sauce over your manti. enjoy!

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