Sunday, May 20, 2012

Deconstructed Mantı

 I love it when you can trace centuries of history through food.  Mantı are a perfect example of this.  Most westerners probably encounter them (if they do even encounter them at all) through Turkish cuisine---where they ended up after a long journey from the central Asian steppe, carried by nomadic Mongols and Turks---but they can be found in various forms in cuisines stretching from Korea and China through Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan to Turkey and all of the places to which its food has spread.  The first mantı I had were in a homey strip-mall Turkish restaurant in Delran, NJ, but the best I've had are probably what Jeff put together last night.

I've never been that into mantı, to be honest.  Something about the ratio of dough to meat in the dumplings (too high usually, in my opinion) and the ease with which the filling can get dried out when cooked carelessly in a restaurant.  But Jeff loves them, and it was his idea to attempt to make this deconstructed mantı-pasta thing you see here.  I was skeptical, to say the least, but it was actually really delicious and has totally made me a convert.  And no one's poor grandmother had to spend all day in the kitchen folding impossibly small dumplings, either.

Deconstructed Mantı

1/2 lb tagliatelle  
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
dried mint
turkish red pepper
salt and pepper

Prepare the tagliatelle according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, saute onions in olive oil until softened.  Add ground beef and season well with salt and pepper, and cook until just done.  Also meanwhile, combine yogurt and garlic with a bit of salt and stir well, set aside.  When everything is ready, in a large serving bowl combine the pasta and meat/onion mixture.  When ready to serve, add a nice dollop of garlic yogurt plus mint, red pepper, and sumac, to taste.

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