Often described as the Turkish ravioli, mantı is the most common type of pasta found in Turkey.
The dumplings consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef, sometimes with chickpeas. Normally boiled, they are served with garlic yogurt and tomato sauce, sparkled with dried mint and sumac. There is more yogurt than tomato sauce. The tomato sauce is meant to be dotted on top not covering the dish.
Most restaurants add butter to the cooked mantı to add flavor and prevent it from sticking one to another.
The origin of mantı is uncertain. The dish may have originated in the territories of Mongol Empire, the recipe was carried across Central Asia along the Silk Road to Anatolia by Turkic and Mongol peoples. Migrating Turkic-speaking peoples brought the dumpling with them to Anatolia, where it evolved into the Turkish mantı. Turkic and Mongol horsemen on the move carried frozen or dried manti, which could be quickly boiled over a camp-fire. When the Tatars settled into the Kayseri region of modern-day Turkey, the area became known for its manti.
The earliest written Ottoman mantı recipe appears in a 15th-century cookbook, it was a steamed dumpling with a minced lamb and chickpeas filling spiced with cinnamon and flavored with vinegar. The dish was garnished with sumac and like most contemporary mantı variations, it was served with a garlic-yogurt sauce.
Types of Turkish mantı
As the name says, these are from Kayseri, an Anatolian city located near Kapadokya.
Kayseri’s mantı is tiny and served with yoghurt, melted butter (flavored with Aleppo pepper) and seasoning including dry mint and Aleppo pepper flakes.
They are the most common type that you find in restaurants across Turkey.
In Kayseri, it is consumed as a soup prior to the main dish.
In Kayseri, mantı is part of a tradition, when an engaged couple is about to get married. The mother of the groom visits the bride’s house. During this visit, the bride should prepare manti for her. The smaller the manti dumplings are, the more skillful the bride is considered to be in the kitchen. Traditionally the dumplings are supposed to be so small that 40 of them can be fit into one spoon.
The crispy mantı are like the Kayseri’s ones, but fried instead of cooked in water.
Sinop Mantısı are sparkled with walnut, these mantı are folded in half so they have a triangle shape, unlike the other types.
Sosyete mantısı / Girit Mantısı
They are bigger, only one or two Mantı can be a meal! They are rolled instead of being folded in Yufka (thin, round, and unleavened flatbread, a bit thicker than the filo used for Baklava). They are fried.
Tepsi means tray in Turkish, therefore these mantı come on the tray used to cook them. They are also opened and on the side. It almost looks like a pie once cooked.