Monday, December 9, 2013

MANTI - deconstructed

I LOVE Manti, but as you might recall, my first attempt at making it with wonton wrappers as a shortcut, led to overdone, hard to chew morsels. Soaking them in chicken broth helped soften them, but generally speaking, I was disappointed.

My plan was to try again making the dough from scratch, but that hasn’t happened yet. Alas, my cousin Ron Takakjian came to the rescue.
Just as I have prepared ‘kufteh deconstructed ’, and ‘dolma deconstructed ’ in the past, Ron suggested a ‘manti deconstructed’ recipe. 

There are easy-manti recipes floating around out there using shell-shaped pasta stuffed with the traditional manti filling, then baking. The recipe Ron sent is even easier than that.
I used my own manti filling and yogurt sauce recipes, but applied Ron’s layering technique to achieve the manti taste without the manti fuss. Try it!
Manti Deconstructed (image from
Manti Deconstructed
Serves 3 to 4

Filling Ingredients:
1 lb. ground lamb, beef, or turkey
1 large onion, finely chopped
1or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, black pepper, Aleppo red pepper, and allspice to taste
½ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

Filling Directions:
1. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add ground lamb, salt, pepper, Aleppo red pepper, and allspice to taste. Cook until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain any fat. Stir in parsley and cook for 2 more minutes. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

½ lb. small pasta of your choice (Small shells, rotini, or bowties work well)
Cook according to package directions; drain and place in a serving platter or bowl, keeping it warm.

Yogurt-Garlic Sauce (Suggestion: Make this in advance.)
16 oz. plain yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt to taste
1. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Mix well.
2. Chill until ready to serve, allowing flavors to blend. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Assembling Directions:
Evenly distribute the lamb mixture over the hot, cooked pasta. Top with yogurt sauce. 
Serve immediately.

Optional step: In a small saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp. butter over medium-low heat, add ½ tsp. crushed dried mint and a dash of Aleppo red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until butter turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Do NOT allow butter to burn. Drizzle melted butter over top.


  1. Here is a suggestion: Buy some medium-sized conch-shell pasta (conchiglie) and cook them according to the package directions. Then fill them with the filling. You can then layer the "manti" in a pan and bake in the oven until crisp. Proceed as you would with regular "manti".

    1. Always a good alternate preparation. Thanks, Ara!