About a dozen years ago, the Elbasi family immigrated to Canada from Turkey, opening one of the best eateries in town – Anatolia Turkish Cuisine in the Crossroads Market. They now have a bricks-and-mortar location downtown, and at their farmers’ market location they have the only phyllo sheeting machine in Canada. But more importantly, they’re a lovely family, cook wonderful food, and when I was researching different varieties of dumplings for CBC, walked me through how to make tiny manti – Turkish dumplings filled with lamb or beef, encased in a soft dough and drizzled with melted butter.
On the day I was pestering them with questions, they happened to be making some for that evening’s iftar. They said tomatoes were typical, and when I came across some browned butter tomatoes, I couldn’t not make them.
The dumplings themselves are not entirely unlike peroghies, in terms of assembly; they’re tinier, and have four points, but the dough is soft and easy to press together. It’s very satisfying, and even more fun when you have a small team of friends – or better yet, tiny-fingered children – to form an assembly line at your kitchen table. Any dumplings not simmered immediately can be frozen in a single layer, than transferred to a freezer bag to be dumped straight into boiling water when you’re ready for them.
Lamb manti are my favourite, but beef works well too – they’re delicious tossed with butter (browned, if you have a few extra minutes), or any form of tomato sauce, and I love that they’re nestled into a smear of garlicky yogurt first.