“The guest is the shadow of God!”
exclaims Assan, the head chef of Seven, as he removes the lid from a heat-stained steamer to reveal a dozen large dim sum-like specimens damp with condensation.
“Hospitality is very important in Afghanistan!”
interrupts Bashir, his younger brother before taking three plates loaded with Mantuu and disappearing backwards through the flip door into the restaurant.
Traditional served at weddings and to special guests, Mantuu (steamed lamb dumplings) are the party-food of choice in Afghanistan and other central Asian states. Not dissimilar to giant dim sum they come packed with ground lamb and their size and ease of eating make them suitable social food. Their origins lie deep in the history of the ancient nomadic hurdsmen who roamed Central Asia. Frozen in packed-snow or dried in the sun they could be easily transported in saddle bags before being brought back to life over a camp fire. Here is a recipe so you can try them around your own campfires or cooker at home.
For the Dough
- 2 packets dimsum wraps (found in the chilled section of any Asian supermarket).
For the Mantuu Filling
- 300g lamb mince
- 500g onions diced
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- Crushed black pepper
- A pinch of salt
For The Sauce
- 250g yellow split peas
- 2 small onions, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely choppes
- 3 tomatoes skinned and diced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp of cooking oil
- 500g plain yoghurt
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Fresh mint, finely chopped
To make the filling
1. Heat oil in a fry pan.
2. Add the mince and stir until the meat is golden brown. Add onions and cook until transparent then add the coriander and pepper and mix through.
3. Take pan off the heat and place the contents in dish to cool.
1. Soak split peas for 2-3 hours or over night. Drain.
2. Heat the oil in pan and cook onions and garlic until lightly browned and smelling sweet.
3 . Add tomato paste and diced tomato.
4. Add split peas and ¾ cup water and cook for 30-45 mins until soft
5. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
1. In a separate bowl mix the yogurt with the minced garlic, mint and salt.
2. Have a quick taste to make sure its well seasoned.
Building The Mantuu
1. If you are using the square Gow Gee wrappers, place a spoonful of filling in the centre of the wrapper. Moisten edge of the squares – lift corner to corner and seal, then half twist the corners of the triangle to seal in filling.
2 .For home made pastry (see below), place a spoonful of filling in the center of the rolled-out dough Dip finger in water and moisten the circumference of the pastry shape. Lift the outer rim to meet in the middle.
Seal the edges by pressing together to form dumplings
3. Oil the base of steamer to prevent sticking and place dumplings carefully across oil.
Steam for 25 – 25 minutes
1 .On a large serving plate smear a fine layer of garlic/mint/yoghurt topping.
2 . Place the dumplings in a circle.
3. Evenly drizzle the remaining yoghurt over the dumplings. Followed by the split pea sauce.
4 . Scatter with fresh mint and a shake of dried chilli flakes.