Manti recipe history culture origin

Manti are steamed dumplings, often quite large, and are associated with Central Asian cultures.

Manti, Pozi, Bauzi: More Than Just Another Dumpling

Published: June 24, 2020

Manti (манты) are steamed dumplings consisting of ground meat and spices in an unleavened pastry shell. Manti are a popular dish across Central Asia, Pakistan, Northern China, Turkey, and Russia.

They are considered native to Central Asia, but are also thought to have descended from a still-older Chinese dish.

How Manti Got Their Name

(Почему они носят такое название?)

It is likely that the recipe originated with the Uighurs in China, who have long prepared a dish called “mantau,” a name which, in their language, means “bread prepared in steam.”

In modern Chinese cooking, mantau still exist. Today, they are usually prepared without filling, although evidence exists that this was not always the case and that they were perhaps once something more similar to the modern Chinese boazi, which is closer to modern manti. Wherever it originated, the food spread quickly among the traditionally equestrian peoples of Central Asia, who would carry sacks of frozen or dried manti with them as a quick meal to prepare when they stopped to rest on their journeys.

Manti recipe history culture origin
Free of the infinite ways to fold manti!

The Mongols consider manti a national dish, although in the Mongol language they are called “buuz.” The Mongols also have a meatless version which they refer to as “mantuun buuz,” which sounds like it could be a mixed version of the two Chinese names “mantau” and “boazi.”

Manti are eaten in Turkey as well, although the Turks often refer to them as “tatar bureks,” with “burek” being a Turkish fried or baked stuffed pastry, but “Tatar” being an equestrian people native to southern Siberia. In Irkutsk in southeastern Russia, they are known by the native Buryat name of “позы” (pozi), which is quite similar the Chinese name “boazi.” Most Central Asians, and Russians, however, consistently refer to the food with some variation of the name “Manti.”

How to Eat Manti

(Как правильно есть манты?)

Eating manti requires some skill. The reasons for this are two fold. First, manti tend to be large, the average size ranging from that of a large egg to something slightly smaller than a hockey puck. Students in Kyrgyzstan have reported seeing them as big as a man’s fist. In many countries, they are eaten with the hands, although with the slick, loose pasta shell outside and the temperature of the meat inside, this can be a tricky process.

Second, and most importantly, as the manti cook, their shells catch the “juice” of the meat inside. Especially in the case of large manti and in the case of manti made from particularly fatty meat (many Central Asian chefs will actually add lard to the recipe), the reservoir inside can be sizeable. Experienced eaters will bite a hole in one side and drink the liquid quickly as their first move. Inexperienced eaters may need to find a good laundry detergent after their meal to get the stains out of their shirts.

While the most obvious solution to this might be to simply cut the dumpling into parts with a knife and fork on the plate, there are several arguments against this. First, it’s not traditional. Second, this often results in separate bites of shell and meat, and significant loss of juice; the flavor of the manti comes largely from the mixing of these elements.

Manti recipe history culture origin
Russian opposition politician Gary Kasparov and his wife dine at a poznaya in Ulan Ude, Russia.

One common technique is to stab the manti with a fork, dip it in the sauce of your choice, and eat it in several bites from the fork.

In Mongolia, manti (buuz) are often eaten for holidays such as the New Year celebration. In much of European Russia, they are eaten largely at home (they do not often occur in restaurants) as a more exotic (and simpler) version of “пельмени” (pelmeni).

In Irkutsk, there is a certain passion for the local pozi, which are served at small, often greasy-spoon establishments which specialize in them. Such an establishment is called a “позная” (poznaya).

The relatively simple and hearty manti can be eaten with a variety of condiments. Russians seem to prefer sour cream, butter, chopped onions, vinegar, pepper, mayonnaise, fresh dill, spring onions, and/or fresh cilantro in various combinations. Soy sauce, chili sauce, crushed garlic, and even mustard are also not uncommon, especially among the more southern peoples of Russia and the peoples of Central Asia.

How to Properly Prepare Manti

(Как правильно готовить манты?)

Manti differ from “пельмени” (pelmeni) primarily in shape and size. While the ingredients can be exactly the same, manti are, on average, at least twice as large as pelmeni. While pelmeni have a circular “ear” shape, manti can usually resemble small pucks or even little bricks. They can be oblong with a frilly and elaborate binding or square-ish and sealed with blockish “X.” The pozi of Irkutsk earn their separate name by the fact that they are always marked by a hole left in the top while manti are tightly sealed.

Manti recipe history culture origin
A “standard” mantishnitsa!

Connoisseurs of manti will also insist that the meat should be chopped and never ground, as is most common with pelmeni or a good American burger. While the meat for pelmeni is almost always seasoned with salt, pepper, and ground onion, the meat for manti might also be seasoned with coriander, coriander seeds, or even various vegetables such pumpkin, cabbage, potato, carrots or other additions. Some cultures make meatless manti that feature only vegetables. Pumpkin manti are common in many areas in the fall and potato manti can fill the belly even if your pocket is quite empty.

These “extras,” however, are seldom used by Russians, who most often use meat prepared the same way as for pelmeni and will often scoff at the addition of any vegetable besides onion.

Manti are prepared in a special steamer known as a “мантоварка” (mantovarka) or, more affectionately, as a “мантышница” (mantishnitsa). It can also be called by its more general, but less frequently used name, “каскан” (kaskan). This device couples a pot for boiling water with several porous tiers above it and a tight lid on top. These can be found in America at shops specializing in Chinese foods. You can also easily find these online. There are also sleek electronic steamers out there – although it is the standard metal version that you find in most Russian and Central Asian households, many of them decades old.

The tiers should be lightly greased with vegetable oil and the manti should be placed so that they do not touch. This will prevent them from sticking to the pan or each other and thus tearing when they are removed or separated.

On a final note – it is also interesting that the singular of manti, which is “мант” (mant), is so seldom used in Russian that many Russians don’t even know it exists. If to refer to a singular mant, the colloquial and affectionate “мантушка” (mantushka) is more frequently used, but still a relative rarity. “Мантушка” is also used to refer to a restaurant specializing in manti and occasionally as a term of endearment, particularly as referring to a young child.

Let’s Cook!

(Давай приготовим!)

Киргизские манты  Kyrgyz Manty
Ингредиенты
  • 1 кг муки;
  • 1 яйцо;
  • 2 головки чеснока;
  • 2 большие луковицы;
  • 1 кг говяжьего или бараньего фарша;
  • пол-чайной ложки красного молотого перца;
  • пол-чайной ложки чёрного молотого перца;
  • соль по вкусу.

Приготовление

  1. Смешайте муку, яйцо, 2 чашки горячей воды и 1 чайную ложку соли, чтобы замесить тесто. Месите до мягкости. Оставьте накрытым на 30 минут.
  2. Мелко покрошите луковицы и чеснок, и тоже добавьте в фарш. Поперчите. Растворите 1 столовую ложку соли в 2 чашках тёплой воды и перемешайте с остальными компонентами.
  3. Разделите тесто на 4 равные части. Раскатайте тесто на посыпанной мукой доске или столе так, чтобы тесто было тонким, но не рвалось. Разрежьте получившийся пласт на полосы примерно 10 см шириной. Полосы нарежьте на квадраты со сторонами около 10 см. Положите по столовой ложке фарша. Два противоположных угла квадрата соедините вместе над начинкой и крепко защипите. Проделайте то же самое с двумя остальными углами. Получившиеся “ушки” соедините попарно с одной и другой стороны.
  4. Варите на пару 40-50 минут.
  5. Приготовленные таким образом манты затем могут быть запечены или пожарены. Подавать блюдо с разведенным уксусом.
Ingredients
  • 1 kg flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 kg of ground beef or mutton
  • Half-teaspoon of red ground pepper
  • Half-teaspoon of black ground pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

Grease the boiler trays with vegetable oil.

  1. 1.Mix flour, egg, two cups of hot water and one teaspoon of salt. Knead until soft. Leave covered for 30 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic, and add them to the minced meat. Add pepper. Dissolve one tablespoon of salt in 2 cups of warm water and mix it with the meat.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll the dough on a floured board or table until the dough is about 1/8 of an inch thick: so that it is thin, but won’t easily tear. Cut the layer into squares of about 4×4 inches. Put one tablespoonful of meat on each. Join the two opposite corners of the square and stick them firmly together above the stuffing. Do the same with the two other corners. Join the sides as well of the “ears” you have formed by joining the corners.
  4. Steam for 40-50 minutes.
  5. After steaming, they can be additionally baked or fried. They are traditionally served with diluted vinegar in Kyrgyzstan.

 

Манты по-русски Russian Manty
Ингредиенты
  • Мука – 1/5 стакана
  • Вода – 1/3 стакана
  • Соль – 1/2 ч. ложки
  • Говядина или свинина – 500 г
  • Репчатый лук – 2 шт.

Приготовление

  1. Мясо пропустить через мясорубку (если мясо недостаточно жирное, нужно добавить в него 1 ст. ложку мелко нарезанного шпика), добавить мелко нашинкованный лук, холодную воду, соль и перец, все хорошо перемешать. При желании в фарш можно добавить чеснок и мелко нарубленную зелень укропа и петрушки.
  2. Замесить тесто из воды, муки и соли. Раскатать тесто в длинный жгут и разрезать его на кусочки весом в 20 г. Раскатать кусочки в кружки, при этом середина кружка должна быть толще, чем его края. На середину каждого кружка положить столовую ложку фарша и защепить края.
  3. Готовить в мантоварке с плотно закрытой крышкой в течение 30 минут.
Ingredients
  •  Flour – 1/5 of glass
  • Water – 1/3 of glass
  • Salt – 1/2 of teaspoonful
  • Beef or pork – 500 grams
  • Onions – 2 bulbs

Preparation

  1. Put the meat through a grinder, add finely chopped onions, cold water, salt and pepper, and mix well. To your liking, it is possible to add garlic and finely cut dill and/or parsley.
  2. Knead the flour, water, and salt until a dough has formed. Roll the dough into a long cylinder and cut it into slices of about 20 grams each. Roll the slices into small circles so that the middle of the circle is thicker than its edges. Put a tablespoonful of ground meat on the middle of each circle to and stick its edges together.
  3. Cook in a steamer with tightly closed lid for 30 minutes.

Our Favorite Manti Videos

This made-for-the-Internet commercial is for a brand of frozen manti that can be bought in stores in Russia. The brand is “У Палыча,” (“From Palich;” Palich is a Russian patronymic). This Samara-based company is well-known in European Russia for high-quality, reasonably-priced prepared Russian traditional foods: everything from cakes to salads to drinks. Note in this video the clearly documented process of “sticking” the mant together, as well as the size of the manti the company makes and sells.

Lastly, this a Voice of America news piece on a Russian/Kazakh restaurant opened in Washington DC in 2009. They serve, among many other dishes, manti, which are discussed as part of this Russian-language video.

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About the author

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson

Josh has lived in Moscow since 2003, when he first arrived to study Russian at MGU through SRAS. He holds an M.A. in Theatre and a B.A. in History from Idaho State University, where his masters thesis was written on the political economy of Soviet-era censorship organs affecting the stage. At SRAS, Josh assists in program development and leads our Home and Abroad Programs. He is also the editor-in-chief for the SRAS newsletter, the SRAS Family of Sites, and Vestnik: The Journal of Russian and Asian Studies. In addition, he serves as Communications Director to Alinga Consulting Group and has served as a consultant or translator to several businesses and organizations with interests in Russia.

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Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov has reported on political and social issues for the Russian press as well as American outlets such as Russian Life, Worldpress.org, and Triangle Free Press. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the "real Russia" which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and went on to study TESOL and teach Russian at West Virginia University. He is currently working on an PhD from West Virginia University in Political Science. Andrei contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS site, and is an overall linguistics and research resource.

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