Tag Archives: turkish

Turkish Manti

24 Feb

About a decade ago, I received a Turkish cookbook from my friend Sevda’s mother, Mrs. Bulut. The cookbook is filled with loads of information about Turkish foods, traditions, and ways of serving guests. Reading through it recently, it made me feel a bit nostalgic for my own trip to Turkey, now almost twenty years ago. On that trip I met up with Sevda and her family, who took me around their home in Adana and in nearby towns. It was a wonderful trip, and was able to see places and experience new kinds of foods for the first time. Safely transported and guided by my hosts, this was the smooth part of my trip.

Just before joining up with the Buluts, I spent a few days on my own in Istanbul. This was the not smooth part of my trip. My plan was one of a young college student in pre-Internet times (translation: poorly planned, poorly connected). In my mind, the plan was so simple – arrive in Istanbul and meet up with a friend I had met while studying in Italy. In a letter, I had sent information a few weeks ahead about my plans and arrival date. And here’s where problems one and two come in: 1. my friend was not there to meet me, 2. so I found an inexpensive hotel in which to stay until I could find him. A hotel so sketchy that I used my backpack as a pillow, and that backpack had been placed on every pigeon poop covered piazza in Europe.

Even if you have never been to Istanbul, you may know this – it is one of the largest cities in the world. Having only my friend’s first and last name (no street address, no phone number, no idea what his parent’s names were), I figured I would walk to the post office, find a phone book, and start calling. In English. With this fine plan in mind, my first step was to buy a map so I could locate a post office. On the street and looking for a map, I walked past a rug shop and several men called me inside take a look at the rugs. Sure, I thought, why not. I’M 21 YEARS OLD AND I DON’T KNOW WHERE I AM AND NO ONE ELSE DOES EITHER, WHAT COULD GO WRONG (please note: the all caps is my adult-self shouting retrospectively at my young-woman-self).

I entered the rug shop and the men started showing me some rugs. They asked me how I was enjoying Istanbul, and why I was travelling all alone, a young American woman. Sure, I thought, why not tell them the whole story. Beans spilled to perfect strangers, they were shocked and appalled that my friend had not come to pick me up, and decided that it was unacceptable. They called to have tea brought in from next door, rounded up their cousins from a neighboring shop, and set out to call every Parmaksiz in Istanbul. AND THEY FOUND HIM. AND MADE HIM COME PICK ME UP RIGHT THAT MINUTE. In the meantime, I bought a rug. From the most helpful rug salesman in Istanbul.

Turns out, making manti is easier than tracking down a lost friend in Istanbul, but does take just about as many steps. Before we get into the details, I should state that I have NO idea how authentic this recipe actually is. There are many variations on manti, and I made a few non-traditional adjustments to the recipe to accommodate the tastes and food requirements of our household. They turned out to be really delicious, but it is very likely that they are different than those you might find in Turkey.

Manti are very much like other kinds of stuffed pasta found around the world. Similar in form to pot stickers, ravioli, or tortellini, manti are made with fresh pasta, filled, folded, cooked, and topped with sauce. Sometimes they are dropped in boiling water like their Italian counterparts, other times they baked. I opted for the baked version because I felt like they would be less likely to fall apart, which can sometimes happen when filled pasta is dropped in boiling water.

Since this process is somewhat labor intensive, I prepped some of the ingredients in the morning. Part of this recipe includes baking the manti in a pan filled with broth, and I wanted to be sure that the broth was great. I decided to start out by making stock out of beef shank, then using the beef from the shank as part of the filling. With the broth made and the filling in the refrigerator, Sophie and I set out to make the dough and assemble the manti together. My original thought was to use the pasta roller to create the pasta squares, but found that the dough did not hold up well that way. A rolling-pin on a lightly floured surface proved to be the most simple and fastest way to crank out the squares we needed. Sophie took on the task of filling and folding the manti. She’s a pro.

After the manti are shaped and placed in the pan they are baked until they are slightly hardened and start to turn color.  Then, the oven temperature is increased, the pan is filled with hot broth, and returned to the oven to bake until most of the liquid had been absorbed.  The result was a combination of chewy, crunchy textures and perfectly cooked outsides.  While the manti were soaking up all that delicious broth, we made a simple sauce using garlic, non-dairy yogurt, tomato paste, and broth.  A light pink sauce, this flavorful sauce would be delicious on any pasta or served over chicken.  I’ll definitely make that part again.

Turkish Manti
Serving size: 4 pieces + 1/4 c. sauce
Serves: 4

STOCK
1 T. olive oil
1 lb. beef shank
1/2 onion, cut into big chunks
1/2 c. baby carrots
2 stalks celery, with leaves, cut into big chunks
8 c. water
Salt and pepper

MEAT FILLING
1 c. reserved beef shank, chopped into tiny bits
2 T. onion, finely chopped
1/4 c. reserved beef stock
Salt and pepper

DOUGH
2 c. flour
3 eggs
2-4 T. water
1/2 t. Kosher salt

SAUCE
2 t. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. tomato paste
3/4 c. reserved beef stock
1/2 c. plain soy yogurt
1/8-1/4 t. cayenne or crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
Dried mint

In a stock pot, heat 1 T. oil over medium high heat. Add beef shank and brown on both sides. Add onion, carrots, and celery, cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 c. water and stir up browned bits. Add remaining water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for one hour. Remove the beef shank and set aside. Strain and discard solids, reserve the liquid. When the beef has cooled, remove the fat and bone, cut remaining beef into tiny bits. Combine meat with the rest of the meat filling ingredients, salt and pepper to taste, stir, and refrigerate until ready to make manti.

In a large bowl, mix together the dough ingredients by hand adding water until a dough forms. Knead on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until the dough is well mixed, but not so long that the dough becomes tough and overworked. Cut into four pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface until it is as thin as you can get it. Cut the dough into 2-3” squares and set aside.

Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. If the reserved beef stock is not already warm, heat the stock. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place about 1 t. of the meat filling in the center of each square. Bring the corners together to the middle and pinch the sides together to form a sealed X shape at the top. Some of the dough may not be exactly that shape, just be sure that all of the seams are pinched together tightly. Place the manti in the casserole dish so that they are close together but not touching if you can help it.

Bake the manti for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and increase heat to 400 degrees F. Pour hot stock over the manti so that they are almost fully covered. Return to oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until almost all of the broth has been absorbed.

In the last few minutes of cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, add oil. When oil is hot, add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, 3/4 c. reserved beef stock, soy yogurt, and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.

Divide manti between four bowls, spoon sauce over the top, and sprinkle top with dried mint.

Estimated calories: 420 cal/serving

Print it: Turkish Manti

Notes:
– You could make this an easier dish to prepare by using pre-made broth instead of making your own. And if you’re skipping that step, any cooked beef would be a fine substitute for the beef shank.
– Although I didn’t try it, I bet wonton wrappers would make a decent substitute for the pasta, but the cooking time would definitely be different.
– If you eat dairy, Greek yogurt would be really good in place of the non-dairy version we used
– If I were making this for just myself, I’d also add more cayenne than I used here.

Chicken Kofte Kabobs with Creamy Cucumber Sauce

19 Jul

A few years ago I received a Turkish cookbook from my college roommate’s mother.  Knowing how much I loved cooking, she thought I would enjoy learning more about Turkish foods and how to prepare them.  She was right, but I didn’t count on the learning curve.  There were two main things that gave me trouble: 1) everything in the cookbook was in grams so it required math every time I planned a meal (note: math is not hard, but dude, still math), and 2) there were a lot of ingredients I could not readily identify.  One ingredient that gave me a lot of trouble is one called Kofte Spice.  It isn’t found on American grocery store shelves, and I couldn’t find any definitive info on the Internet.  That left me with one (and really, really good) solution – email Mrs. Bulut for more information. 

Through a series of emails she explained to me that Kofte Spice would vary in content based on the region in which it is used.  In Turkey, it consists of a mixture of dried herbs and spices – mint, oregano, parsley, salt, cumin, pepper, coriander, ground cloves, and nutmeg.  We discussed the proportions of each herb and spice to create the blend that would be most like the kind used in Turkish cooking.  We landed on a combination that was flavorful and delicious.

So last week, when I picked up a package of Gold’n Plump Ground Chicken, I decided to give this recipe another try.  Different than traditional Turkish Kofte (uses lamb or beef, and is formed into football-like shapes and pan-fried), I decided to make a few changes and good use of the abundance of herbs growing in my garden.  The resulting recipe was delicious – and like many State Fair foods have proven, kids will eat anything that is served on a stick.  This recipe was light and flavorful, and meal prep was shortened by making most of it a day ahead and doing the final cooking at dinnertime.

Chicken Kofte Kabobs with Creamy Cucumber Sauce
Serves: 4
Serving Size:  Two skewers, ¼ cucumber, ½ Roma tomato, big scoop of sauce

CHICKEN KOFTE KABOBS
1 lb. ground chicken
2 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 T. parsley, finely chopped
1 T. fresh mint, finely chopped
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cumin
20 turns freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. coriander
1/8 t. ground cloves

SAUCE
3/4 c. Greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
2 T. fresh mint, finely chopped
2 T. chives, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 t. kosher salt

SIDES
1 cucumber, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, halved and sliced

Combine chicken, oregano, parsley, and mint until well mixed.   In a separate bowl, combine salt through cloves.  Add to chicken mixture and mix until fully incorporated.  Place in refrigerator for at least an hour, up to one day ahead.  One hour before cooking time, soak 8 bamboo skewers in water.  Then, when ready, preheat oven to 350° F.  Just before cooking, spray broiler pan with cooking spray.  Divide chicken mixture into eight portions and roll into an oblong shape, then place on skewer.  Add all the kabobs to the broiler pan and cook for 25 minutes, turning once.  Remove and let cool a minute before serving.

Mix together all of the sauce ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to 24 hours ahead. Place on a plate with sliced sides and add two chicken kabobs to each plate.

Notes:
• This meal was pretty light. Next time, I might add a pita and some lettuce to the meal – either all tucked inside the pita, or served on a plate.
• To make this non-dairy, substitute non-dairy sour cream for Greek yogurt.

Estimated Calories:  257 cal/serving

Print it: Chicken Kofte Kabobs with Creamy Cucumber Sauce