Uzbek manty in London UKIn Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz cuisines, manti are usually made of one (or a combination) of the following ingredients: lamb, beef, potato or pumpkin, with fat often added to meat manti. Steaming, frying and boiling are all common. After Plov, Manty is the most popular and favorite Uzbek dish. That is why in many regions Manty is served at the end of the meal. In the Fergana valley, Samarkand, Tashkent and Bukhara, Manty is one of the major components of the diet of the local population. In other places, it is prepared less often.

 

A brief method of preparing the Manti

Manty is prepared from water based dough, which is unrolled in layers 4-5 mm thick and cut in squares of 12×12 cm. Meat, vegetables or spices can make up the stuffing. Manty is steamed for 35-45 minutes in a special pot (kaskan). Manty is served with sour milk or sour cream.

Although there are many variations of Manti in different cultures, the one filled with meat is the most common one that is known. It is either filled with beef or lamb. It contains finely chopped onions and different herbs. Turkish variation of Manti is much smaller and resembles Uzbek Chuchvara.

 

A little about Manti and where it came from

Manti indicates either singular or plural) or Mantu are dumplings popular in most Turkic cuisines, as well as in the Caucasian, Central Asian, Chinese Islamic, and Hejaz cuisines. Nowadays, manti are also consumed throughout Russia and other post-Soviet countries, where the dish spread from the Central Asian republics. The dumplings typically consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef in a dough wrapper, and either boiled or steamed. Size and shape vary significantly depending on the geographical location. Manti resemble the Chinese jiaozi, Korean mandu, Mongolian buuz, and the Tibetan momo.

 

History

Manti (Manty, Manties or Mantu) is a dish of Uzbek cuisine that has the form of large dumplings filled with meat and steamed in a special pot. Manti is a true ‘nomad’: it first came to Central Asia from China, and then its various versions spread to Russia and other European countries.

The origin is somewhat uncertain. While the Chinese word “mantou” has been suggested as the origin for the word “manti”, this word had several different spellings in Chinese in the past indicating that the Chinese attempted to adapt a foreign word to their writing system. Originally, mantou was meat filled, but nowadays mantou refers to steamed bun in China, while baozi resembles the ancient mantou stuffed with meat.

The former territories of the Mongol Empire is where the various manti dishes are geographically located. The recipe was carried across Central Asia along the Silk Road to Anatolia by migrating Turkic and Mongol peoples in the Chingizid-Timurid periods. In particular, according to one Armenian researcher, manti first reached Cilician Armenia as a result of the cultural interaction between Armenians and Mongols during their alliance in the 13th century. According to Holly Chase, “Turkic and Mongol horsemen on the move are supposed to have carried frozen or dried manti, which could be quickly boiled over a camp-fire”. In Turkey, it is also called Tatar böreği (Tatar bureks), which indicates its relation to nomadic peoples. Korean mandu is also said to have arrived in Korea through the Mongols in the 14th century. However, some researchers do not discount the possibility that manti may have originated in the Middle East and spread eastward to China and Korea through the Silk Road.

Manti is a meal usually cooked for dinner or supper. It is served in a large lagan (dish), and then each person puts the amount of manti he wants into their plate. In Uzbekistan manti, like most of the other Uzbek dishes, is traditionally eaten with the hands. Actually, it is rather difficult to eat it with the help of cutlery, and soon you will also realize that, eaten with the hands, it seems even more delicious, as its filling does not fall out, but remains within the dumpling together with the juice. Therefore, do not hesitate to eat it with the hands: it will in no way breach the etiquette.

Main ingredients of commonest version of manti are spiced meat (lamb or ground beef) and onion. However, the dumplings may be filled with potato and onion, potato and meat, and pumpkin. The more onion there is in any of these fillings, the juicier is the manti. Besides, steaming preserves maximally the nutritive value of the meat and vegetables in manti.

 

Procedure for cooking manti:

  • Knead simple dough (flour, water and salt) and leave it for some time under a cover. In the meanwhile, you can prepare the filling. If it is meat and onion, cut the meat into very small pieces, add onion also cut into tiny blocks, and mix them. Salt the mixture and add pepper and spices to your taste.
  • Now is the time to mould the dumplings. There are two ways. The first one is to roll out the dough thinly and to cut it into squares 8 cm by 10 cm. The second way is to make several rolls, cut them into equal pieces and roll out each as thinly as possible.
  • Then put the prepared mixture of meat and onion in the centre of the square or round, add a piece of butter or fat and join the ends. You had better see it with your own eyes, so difficult this technique is to explain.
  • To steam manti you need a special pot (kaskan – multi-level metal steamer), which in European countries can be substituted by a steamer. Kaskan (manti pot) consists of layered pots with many holes. Before putting the steamer on fire, oil its plates. Place the grids with manti into the steamer over boiling water, cover it with a lid and cook for 40-45 minutes.
  • Manti are usually served with sour cream (smetana) or tomato sauce, or fresh onion rings (sprinkled with vinegar and black pepper), herbs, salt, pepper and butter.

 

In Central Asian cuisines

Manti in Central Asian cuisines are usually larger in size. They are steamed in a multi-level metal steamer called mantovarka, mantyshnitsa (Russian terms for manti cooker), manti-kazan or manti-kaskan (manti pot). It consists of layered pots with holes that are placed over a boiling stock and water.

 

In Kazakh cuisine, the manti filling is normally ground lamb (sometimes beef or horse meat), spiced with black pepper, sometimes with the addition of chopped pumpkin or squash. This is considered to be a traditional Uyghur recipe. Manti are served topped with butter, sour cream or onion (or garlic) sauce. When sold as street food in Kazakhstan, manti are typically presented sprinkled with hot red pepper powder.

In Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz cuisines, manti are usually made of one (or a combination) of the following ingredients: lamb, beef, potato or pumpkin, with fat often added to meat manti. Steaming, frying and boiling are all common. Manti are usually topped with butter and served with sour cream, tomato sauce or fresh onion rings (sprinkled with vinegar and black pepper). A sauce made by mixing vinegar and chilli powder is also common. In Uzbekistan, manti are also called kaskoni.

The same style of cooking manti is traditional for Tatar, Bashkir and other cuisines of the Turkic peoples living in the vast area from Idel-Ural to the Far East. It is nowadays widespread throughout Russia and other post-Soviet countries.

 

Afghan cuisine

In Afghan cuisine and Pashtun cuisine Pakistan, the mantu are filled with beef or lamb mixed with minced onions and spices, steamed and then topped with a very typical sauce (seer moss, lit. ‘Garlic yoghurt’) of yoghurt, dried or fresh mint, lemon juice and minced or pressed garlic. The mantu are also typically topped with a very small amount of tomato-based sauce which can include split peas, red kidney beans and/or some sauteed ground meat. The amount of yoghurt sauce is typically much greater than the tomato sauce; the tomato sauce is meant to be dotted on top – not covering the dish. Chutney, a spicy green or red pepper condiment sauce, may be sprinkled on top. Many Afghans also like to serve mantu with a carrot qorma or stew, instead of a tomato-based sauce.

 

In Saudi cuisine

Mantu is part of the cuisine of the urban areas of Hejaz in western Saudi Arabia, which is used to receiving Muslim immigration from Central Asia and elsewhere and incorporating elements of immigrant cultures into the local cuisine. Today, mantu is a common meal in cities like Jeddah and Mecca although it can be found in other Saudi cities and towns also. A Saudi variation in the form of a casserole also exists and is called mantu kaddab.

In Bosnian cuisine

In Bosnian cuisine, the name klepe is used. These are made of minced meat with onions. It is served in a sauce consisting of yoghurt and garlic. There is also a separate dish called mantije, which is made of the same ingredients, but the pastry balls are put together with no free space in between and baked. After the baking yoghurt is poured on top. This second type is considered to be a pita or borek rather than manti, and is primarily made in the region of Sandzak.

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