Lamb Mantije with Cilantro Chimichuri
Dumplings make a difference. Almost every culture in the world can boast a handful of tasty recipes wrapped in dough: Chinese wontons, Italian ravioli, Polish pierogi, Russian pelmeni, Nepali, and Tibetan momos, Japanese gyozas … The list is endless! And I’m adding my Lamb Mantije with Cilantro Chimichuri to these lovely dumpling family.
It feels like exploring a dumpling-shaped galaxy, hopping from one deliciously filled planet to another. Steam it, fry it, or boil it – dumplings courageously endure all cooking techniques, staying true to their flavorsome philosophy. The dumpling concept involves three E’s – easy to cook, easy to eat, easy to fall in love with.
If given a chance, every person on earth should have a favorite dumpling type that perfectly matches their character. Imagine a game with the first question: “What’s your dumpling pick, and I will tell who you are.” In case you can’t decide, I’ve saved a fresh twist on the stuffed pockets of dough that are widely spread across Eastern Europe and Central Asia (mostly, ex-Soviet space). The pick we’re featuring is “mantije” or “manty.”
A Bit of Manty History
According to most theories, the dish originated from the Mongol Empire, but the Uzbek, Tajik, Uyghur, and Chinese people claim to be the only and true inventors. Like all other members of the Great Dumping Family, manty consists of ground meat, seasoning, thin wraps, and involves the intricate art of folding, of course. Still, depending on the territory and cultural preferences, manty can be made with beef or lamb, pumpkin, or other veggies. They can be boiled or steamed in special bulky multi-row constructions that look like miniature culinary castles. In the times of the Soviet Union, manty were cooked on special occasions. Since not every family was privileged enough to have the type of steamer called “mantovarka” or “mantyshnitsa,” it was commonly borrowed from relatives or neighbors. Family members would then turn into manty-making machines, crafting as many dumplings as possible to freeze extra parcels for future feasts.
But don’t be scared away! You won’t need any exotic device to prepare these mouth-watering Lamb Mantije with Cilantro Chimichuri – the magic will be revealed in a mundane frying pan. Trust me; the result will be far from the ordinary. Imagine crispy-bottomed yet fluffy goodies with a juicy and superbly-seasoned, tender lamb filling. Not enough to seduce you? Then top it with refreshing cilantro chimichurri to astound and pamper the palate.
Manty is a feast not only for the stomach but for the eyes as well. Beautifully folded, they resemble rosebuds, ready to unfurl and release all their hidden wonders.
So, if you are a curious spirit, love aesthetic experiments, and simple lovemaking objects shine, you will be a “manty person”!To ensure that the resulting manty are immaculate, get the freshest local meat from a trusted market space. And may the dumpling power be with you.
Lamb Mantije with Cilantro Chimichurri
- 275 g about 2 cups all purpose flour, plus some more for dusting
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ¾ cups hot boiling water
- 1/2 pound ground lamb
- 1 medium yellow onion finely grated or pureed in a food processor
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground caraway seeds optional
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 red pepper to taste
- 1 small shallot finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 small Fresno chili pepper finely chopped
- 3/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup sunflower oil
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil for frying
- Sour cream for serving
- Combine all the ingredients for the filling in a medium bowl. Mix well with a spoon. Cover with a wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- To make the chimichurri, in a small bowl, combine the chopped shallot and vinegar. Let the onion marinate for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the shallots and the vinegar separately. In a food processor, combine the shallots, herbs, peppers, oil, and 2 tablespoons of reserved vinegar. Pulse briefly until you get a chunky mixture. Transfer the sauce into a bowl and season to taste with salt and the rest of the vinegar. The sauce should be used within 2 hours.
- Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add oil and start slowly pouring the hot water. The mixture will be very hot so start mixing it with a spatula or a large wooden spoon. When the dough starts coming together and becomes warm enough to handle, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for a few minutes, until almost smooth. Wrap it in plastic and let rest for 20 minutes.
- You can refrigerate the dough up to 6 hours, before making the dumplings. Make sure the dough is room temperature before starting rolling.
- Lightly flour the work surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll into a large 1/8-inch thick circle. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, a glass, or a cup, cut circles of dough. Repeat with the other half of the dough and scraps. Keep the dumpling wrappers covered with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out
- To assemble the dumplings, place a tablespoon of the meat filling right in the center of your wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and pinch to seal it in the middle. Then close two open sides to form a rectangular with 4 corners. Pinch the opposite corners together to create a rose-shaped dumpling.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add dumplings in a single layer and cook until bottoms begin to brown, about 1 minute seconds. Add 1/3 cup water, cover the skillet with a lid and cook for about 3 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook until the liquid has evaporated completely and the bottoms are crisp and golden brown, about 2 more minutes. Repeat with remaining dumplings. Serve with cilantro chimichurri and sour cream.
- If you want to save dumplings for later, place the dumplings on a lightly floured tray or cutting board and freeze. Once the dumplings are solid, place them in ziplocks and store until needed.