Vegan Manti (Turkish Dumplings)
These little dumplings are traditionally stuffed with minced meat, so I made a vegan version using a mincemeat alternative. These delicious dumplings are served with a garlicky yogurt and a caramelized tomato and chilli sauce. Hearty and full of flavour, Manti is the ultimate Turkish comfort food!
Today I'm sharing a vegan version of one of my favourite childhood dishes. Manti is something my grandmother would make for me when I went to visit her on weekends, and for me, it's the very definition of perfect comfort food! Truth is, this is one of those dishes which takes a lot of love and patience to prepare, and it is only after I started making it myself that I realised the significance of it; the thought that my lovely grandmother would spend hours every weekend carefully hand shaping these little dumplings truly warms my heart, and I guess for her it was another way of showing her love. It's safe to say that this dish goes into my repertoire of dishes that I only make for a few very special people or when I'm having a craving so intense, no amount of labour will deter me from making it.
What is Manti?
This classic dish is found in most Turkish restaurants. Small pieces of pasta dough are filled with a spicy and oniony minced meat, and then folded to create a little dumpling. Manti can be purchased in a ready-made dry form from most Turkish supermarkets, but I find that they lack the flavour and texture of traditional Manti, and it’s quite difficult to find an eggless version, so making Manti at home is the best option.
Minced meat substitutions
I've used the Meatless Farm vegan mincemeat, but any vegan mincemeat will do. The key to making it easier to form the shape of the dumplings is to use a vegan mincemeat with a soft, dough-like texture, so that it's easier to form into little balls for stuffing inside the pasta. If you're going to use rehydrated soya mince, I'd recommend you combine it with some boiled mashed potatoes to help the ingredients bind together.
What to serve with Manti
This type of Manti is traditionally served with a dollop of garlicky yoghurt and a generous drizzle of chilli and butter sauce. I would suggest using a Greek style vegan yogurt as they tend to have a more savoury taste.
For the Dough:
Flour: I’d recommend you use ’00' pasta flour. The main difference between '00' flour and all-purpose flour is the gluten content. The '00' flour will give the dumplings a lighter texture, but you can use regular flour instead if you can’t find pasta flour.
Olive Oil: Olive oil adds flavour and makes the dough more supple and easier to roll out.
Salt: A bit of salt will help to season the dough.
For the Filling:
Vegan Mincemeat: I’ve used a the Meatless Farm vegan mince, but any vegan ground meat will do.
Onion: You’ll find that most savoury Turkish recipes call for onion and garlic. These two ingredients add a delicious depth of flavour to almost any dish!
Aleppo chilli flakes: The Aleppo chilli flakes add a slow-building heat and a delicious earthy, fruity taste to the dish. You could use different types of chilli flakes, but bear in mind that different types of chilli will have different levels of heat, so make sure to add it accordingly.
Vegetable Bouillon: This will help to season the vegan mincemeat.
Smoked Paprika: I find that the smoked flavour of the paprika gives a delicious, savoury taste to the Manti.
For the Sauce:
Butter: I’ve used the Flora plant butter, but any vegan butter or margarine will do. Olive oil also works well in the sauce.
Tomato Paste: The tomato paste will add a more intensify the flavour of the sauce and will help to thicken it.
Aleppo chilli flakes: The Aleppo chilli flakes add a slow-building heat and a delicious earthy, fruity taste to the Sauce. You could use different types of chilli flakes, but bear in mind that different types of chilli will have different levels of heat, so make sure to add it accordingly.
For the Yoghurt Topping:
Vegan yoghurt: I’d recommend you use a vegan Greek style yogurt as it has a thicker consistency and a delicious, sour taste. I used the Alpro Greek style yogurt, but any vegan Greek-style yoghurt will do.
Garlic: I’ve used fresh garlic for an intense garlicky favour. If you’re not a fan of garlic, you can omit this ingredient.
How to Make Manti
Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the water and oil and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Add more water, if needed. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth. Cover with cling film and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Add the vegan mincemeat to a large bowl along with the finely chopped onion, salt, black pepper, Aleppo chilli flakes, vegetable bouillon and sweet paprika. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a paste.
Divide the dough into two equal sized pieces and lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Keep one piece of dough covered while you roll out one piece into a circle, rolling the dough as thin as you can (around 1-2mm thick). Cut the circle into 1-1 1/2-inch squares with a knife or pizza cutter.
Place a pea-sized amount of the filling in the centre of each square. To form the Manti, fold the dough over the filling to form a square pyramid shape; press the edges together to seal. Transfer the Manti to a large tray.
Heat the butter, paprika, tomato puree and Aleppo chilli pepper flakes in a small pan over low heat just until the pepper flakes have started to colour the butter. Combine the vegan yoghurt and minced garlic and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat, add the Manti to the pot and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the dough is tender. Drain well. Divide the Manti between two plates. Spoon the yogurt over the Manti and drizzle each serving with the tomato and Aleppo chilli sauce.
Notes and Tips
To preserve the Manti for another time, store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.
This dish tastes best fresh, so I’d recommend making it on the day you intend on serving it.
Store the leftover Manti in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply microwave or heat for a few minutes on the stove top.
You can adjust this recipe to suit your taste by adding different herbs and spices – parsley also goes really well in this recipe.