This recipe was kindly shared with me by my friend’s aunt Houri, a lovely Armenian lady, who lives in Lebanon. She went out of her way to show me the painstaking process of making the Armenian dish; Mante. Like many food cultures around the world, Mante is a small meat dumpling served with broth and/or tomato sauce (Houri's family traditionally do not serve it with a tomato sauce) and topped with thick yoghurt.
She took an entire afternoon to bestow her knowledge and insisted that the smaller the Mante parcels are, the better. Which of course means a longer preparation time. Typically (and thankfully) with these type of dishes, family and friends gather around the table to help, chattering affectionately as they go along.
However if you don’t happen to have willing sous chefs by your side (patience is a virtue here), you will certainly appreciate why this dish is coveted by the family so much. I hope I can do her justice seeing as this recipe has been handed down to her through generations. She told me that every family have their own method of making mante. Her family love her way because each little parcel is so crunchy, even when served in broth, the crisp texture remains. Allow me to share Houri Yapoudjian's way....
Serves 5 people
Ingredients for filling:
- 600g of Beef/ Lamb or mixture of both
- 1 large onion chopped finely
- handful of parsley finely chopped
- Salt to season
- 7 Spice – 1 teaspoon
Ingredients for dough:
- 700g flour
- Half heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (to make dumplings extra crispy)
- Generous pinch of salt
- 1 cup water – you may need to add little more bit by bit until the dough comes together and is not too sticky.
- Extra Flour for dusting
- Vegetable oil for cooking
Note: You will need a large flat surface for rolling out the dough, around 1m x 50cm
- A long thin rolling pin/ pasta machine
- A knife or cutter
- Large Circular tray for cooking
Ingredients for Serving:
Tub of Lebneh (500g thick lebanese yoghurt) mixed with some water until you have a thick consistency
1 litre of Chicken / Vegetable Stock
Tomato sauce (tomato paste and chicken stock mixed together) as optional addition
Sumac to sprinkle / Dried mint to sprinkle
1. Combine dough ingredients in food processor or by hand adding water little by little until the dough comes together but is not too sticky.
2. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 smaller pieces and leave to rest for minimum of half hour covered or wrapped in plastic film.
3. You can roll the dough either by hand or by using a pasta machine. Rolling by hand requires practise and skill, no easy feat! The idea is to stretch out the dough very thin in a circular shape if you are using a rolling pin. Roll out dough into a circle as this shape is much easier to handle. If using a machine, please skip to part 6.
4. Whilst you are rolling out the dough it is very important that you dust the surface with flour while rolling out to ensure it stretches and doesn’t stick. Keep turning the dough clockwise and then flip over so that both surfaces get an even working.
5. If you are rolling by hand, you will need a long thin rolling pin to stretch out the dough (a traditional tool to roll this dough). Once the dough is half a centimeter thick, start at one end of the circular dough and roll the dough over itself almost completely. Press gently in the centre and move outwards towards both ends with your hands, then thrust the rolling pin away from you so that the dough flips and begins to stretch. Do this approx. 3no. times. Once done, gently unroll, sprinkle a little more flour and rotate the circular dough so that you can stretch it from another area to maintain even thickness throughout.
6. Once dough has reached approx. 40cm in diameter (through hand rolling) and has a thin 1mm consistency, cut the dough into squares around 3cmx3cm (or you can use a cookie cutter). Rolling the dough is easily achieved using a pasta machine.
7. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 degrees.
8. Place a dollop of meat onto centre of each square and pinch sides together (like a boat shape) and then press down to sure the meat is snugly into place. This is the traditional shape, however you can experiment with alternative folding shapes.
9. Pour some vegetable oil onto a pan and arrange the dumplings into a circular array. Place in oven until crispy and golden, turning over halfway through cooking time – approximately 15/20 mins mins in total. Please monitor carefully as each oven is different. Alternatively, you can cook the dumplings in a tray over the stove rotating the tray in a circular motion so that all the dumplings get evenly golden brown and turning them over as you go.
10. If you wish to serve your mante in a circular array on the tray then you can just leave them as they are, however not all sides will be crispy and golden. Otherwise, transfer the crispy dumplings into a large bowl ready for communal serving.
11. You may serve with just chicken/ vegetable stock and yoghurt on top with sprinkle of sumac or dried mint according to your preference. You can of course add the tomato sauce should you so wish.