Tomatoey Turkish take on the much-loved dumpling

Although they exist in thousands of forms around the world, dumplings are difficult to define.

This recipe has lamb manti served with garlicky yogurt and browned butter

Lamb manti with browned butter tomatoes is a savoury take on the cross-culturally popular dumpling. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Although they exist in thousands of forms around the world, dumplings are difficult to define.

If all filled packages are considered dumplings, are empanadas dumplings? Are samosas or calzones?

Of course, many true dumplings aren't filled at all.

Consider chicken and dumplings and any simple dough that's dropped by the spoonful onto a pot of soup or stew and steamed. What about spaetzle, gnocchi or gulab jamun?

Gulab jamun, South Asian milk sweets, are little balls of milk reduced to the consistency of soft dough. But these are never described as dumplings. They're deep-fried before being saturated with sugary syrup, so maybe that makes a difference.

I'd like to make the argument that a key characteristic of a dumpling is that it's soft instead of baked or fried until golden and crisp.

My idea of a true dumpling is any dough, filled or not, that has been boiled, steamed or simmered. That is, water has been used as the heat conduit with which to cook it.

This recipe is for manti, Turkish lamb dumplings, which fit the bill as a perfect example of a dumpling.

They're small and soft, made with a flour-egg-water dough similar to Russian pelmeni or Ukrainian (or Polish) perogy. They're simmered in water and served with a garlicky yogurt sauce.

Some recipes call for melted butter spiked with Aleppo pepper, but I came across one that called for browned butter and tomatoes. It made use of a couple wrinkly tomatoes on my countertop.

Lamb manti with garlicky yogurt and browned butter tomatoes

This recipe has been adapted from several sources, including Feast: Food of the Islamic World by Anissa Helou, the magazine Saveur, and advice from family at Anatolia Turkish Food in downtown Calgary and Crossroads Farmers Market.

The garlicky yogurt and tomatoes pair well with the manti. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)



2 cups all-purpose flour.

¼ tsp salt.

½ cup warm water.

1 large egg.


½-1 lb (227-454 g) ground lamb or beef.

1 small onion, coarsely grated.

1 tsp baharat. Optional: substitute a spice blend of mint, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and cumin.

½ tsp salt.

Freshly ground black pepper.

Garlicky Yogurt:

2 cups plain full-fat yogurt.

2 garlic cloves, finely crushed.

Pinch salt.

Browned Butter:

¼-½ cup butter.

2 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped.

Pinch of Aleppo pepper or dried chili flakes.

Sumac, optional.


To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.

Stir in the water and egg and stir until you have a soft dough.

Knead it for a few minutes, until smooth. Cover with a tea towel and let rest while you prepare the filling.

In a medium bowl, blend the lamb, onion, baharat, salt and pepper with your hands until well combined.

Stir the garlic and salt into the yogurt. Set aside or stash in the refrigerator.

The filling includes ground lamb or beef, onion, baharat, salt and pepper. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

To fill the manti, divide the dough into four pieces. Work with one at a time. Keep the others covered with a tea towel.

Roll the dough out thin and cut into strips 1½-inch (3.8-cm) wide, and again across, making 1½-inch squares.

You also can go with two inches, or five centimetres, if that's easier to handle.

Place a tiny amount of filling on each square and gather up the corners to meet in the middle, pinching down the seams to seal.

Put a tiny bit of filling inside each square of dough. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

These can be filled in advance and frozen. Otherwise, keep covered in the refrigerator until you're ready for them.

To cool the manti, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop them in.

Boil for six to eight minutes, until tender. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, in a skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook it until it turns golden and smells nutty.

Pop the filled manti into a large pot of boiling, salted water. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Add the tomatoes to the pan along with the pepper and a pinch of salt.

Cook until the tomatoes break down and become thick and jammy.

Divide the yogurt between four to six shallow bowls and top with the manti, browned butter tomato sauce and a light sprinkle of sumac.

Serves: Four to six people.

  • Hear more about how many cultures serve something tasty wrapped in dough:

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.