Armenian beef manti
Prep 2 hours
Cook 30 minutes
“I discovered these delicious dumplings during my first trip to Lebanon in 2015, at an Armenian restaurant called Mayrig (it was destroyed by the Beirut port explosion in August 2020),” says chef Tom Sarafian. “It was an unforgettable meal and the manti were definitely the highlight. Back in Melbourne I asked my Armenian grandmother to teach me how to make them, and I’ve since had them on the menu at both Rumi and Bar Saracen. Manti are most popular in Turkish cuisine, but this style is uniquely Armenian, as they are shaped differently and baked rather than boiled.” The dumplings and sauces can be prepared ahead and finished at the last minute.
300g (2 cups) ‘00’ flour
Ground sumac, to garnish
300g minced beef
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1½ tsp sea salt flakes, or to taste
½ tsp baharat (see note)
¼ tsp maras pepper (see note)
500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
300g labne (drained yoghurt)
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, pounded with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle
100g unsalted butter
20g salca (see note)
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1. Mix flour, 165ml water and a pinch of salt in a large bowl until well combined. Turn onto a clean bench and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and soft but not sticky. If necessary, add a touch more flour as you knead. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 1 hour.
2. For the beef filling, combine ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. For the tomato sauce, combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.
4. For the garlic labne, combine the ingredients in a bowl, adding a splash of water if the labne is too thick. The mixture should have the consistency of sour cream. Set aside at room temperature.
5. For the red butter, combine the butter and salca in a small saucepan and stir occasionally over low heat until the colour deepens (10 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in smoked paprika and set aside.
6. Divide the dough into four pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, and using a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out dough into a strip 2mm thick and about 10cm wide. Cut the dough into 5cm squares. Place a thumb-sized amount of beef mixture into the centre of each square. Bring opposite sides towards each other and pinch at the ends to create open canoe-shaped dumplings, with the filling showing in the centre. If the dough is too dry, dip your fingers in a bowl of cold water before pressing the edges together. Arrange the dumplings in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate until required.
7. Preheat oven to 190°C. Bake dumplings until golden brown (15 minutes). Pour hot tomato sauce over dumplings and transfer to serving bowls. Place a large dollop of garlic labne on top. Spoon red butter over, sprinkle with sumac and serve.
N O T E
Baharat, a Middle Eastern spice blend, can be found at Lebanese and Middle Eastern grocery stores and select delicatessens. Maras pepper comes in the form of sun-dried red chilli flakes, while salca is a sun-dried red pepper paste. Both can be found at Turkish grocery stores.
Recipe by Tom Sarafian. Image by Eatable.