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Making Mantu (Delicious Afghani Dumplings)

Aug 20, 2022 | 0 comments

Making mantu, delicious Afghani dumplings, is quite easy and delivers a flavorful meal that is maybe a bit different from other cuisines you might typically serve. I first had the delicious dumplings called mantu (also called Mantoo) about 20 years ago in Pleasanton, California. There is a restaurant there called Oasis that serves wonderful Afghani food, and mantu was always my go-to dish. They are tasty little packets filled with spiced ground beef or lamb, which are then steamed and topped with two sauces: a yogurt sauce and a tomato sauce (often with lentils). They’re not difficult to make, and all of the ingredients are easy to come by, so give them a try!

I served mine with small Asian eggplant (the small, skinny ones), which I roasted whole for about 30 minutes, then split open and topped the soft meat with a yogurt and tahini sauce.

Servings: 4 (about 20 dumplings total)
Active Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup plain yogurt (if using thick, Greek style yogurt, add 1/4 cup water to thin the yogurt)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 Tbsp minced fresh mint (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Dumpling Ingredients:
1/2 pound ground beef or lamb
1 cup diced onion (small dice)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
20 won ton wrappers (the square ones)
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Begin by making the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Lower the heat if needed to keep the onion from browning. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and water, and cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced slightly. Add the spices and adjust salt if needed. Set aside.

Next make the yogurt sauce by blending all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

To make the dumplings, combine all the ingredients except for the won ton wrappers in a bowl until well mixed. Prepare a steamer basket (ideally a 2-level bamboo steamer basket as used in Asian cooking), by laying a perforated sheet of parchment paper in the bottom. You can purchase steamer basket liners on Amazon (link here) or simply cut your own from regular parchment paper.

Lay out about 4 dumpling wrappers at a time on a clean, flat work surface and set a small bowl of water nearby. Place a rough tablespoon of meat filling in the center of each wrapper. Using your finger, moisten the outside edges of one of the wrappers. Bring opposite corners together at the top and press lightly to seal. Then bring the opposite corners together and press lightly to seal, making a square packet like this, and you have made mantu dumplings!

Place the completed dumplings in the steamer basket on top of the parchment paper, then continue with the remaining dumplings.

Set the steamer basket in a pan with simmering water (just enough water to not be touching the bottom surface of the steamer basket), cover, and steam for 25-30 minutes or enough to fully cook the interior and the wrappers will be translucent. Just before they are done, reheat the tomato sauce over medium-low heat.

Place 5 dumplings on each of 4 plates. Spoon the yogurt sauce over and between the dumplings, not completely covering them, then spoon the tomato sauce over the exposed parts of the dumplings. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and you are ready to enjoy the mantu!

Bon appétit!



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