These homemade baked Manti (Sini Manti) are traditional Armenian dumplings. They feature a savory beef filling and a luscious yogurt-garlic sauce. While some recipes differ, using lamb instead of beef, this is my family's beloved version. It's by far the best I've ever had on two continents!
(This recipe was originally published in October 2010, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
I remember seeing Ratatouille in theaters when it was first released. One of my favorite moments in the film is when the evil food critic Anton Ego takes a bite of ratatouille.
He immediately returns to his humble beginnings, eating his mother's ratatouille as a young child in the French countryside. It's the first sign of humanity we see in the character, and I'm sure we can all relate to how food can have this transcendent effect on people.
I can relate to Anton Ego. I experience this food nostalgia every time I taste a bite of manti, my ultimate childhood favorite food, the dish that both of my grandmothers have made for me and with me, where I learned the art of cooking, the greatest dish on Earth.
Varieties of Armenian manti
There are actually two kinds of Armenian manti. My favorite is the baked version (sini manti), but there's also a variation cooked in broth as a soup (sulu manti).
Although the dumplings are prepared the same general way, sulu manti is shaped differently and cooked in broth instead of baked in the oven. After baking sini manti we top these canoe-shaped open-faced dumplings with a yogurt-garlic sauce and sumac, a tart Middle-Eastern spice.
Even amongst Armenians there are many nuanced variations to this popular dish, but this is the version I learned from my maternal grandmother. It can be labor intensive, but it definitely worth making from scratch.
And to prove it I was invited to Union Square Cafe in New York City to make this Armenian manti recipe for the staff for family meal. They all raved about it, and so will you 🙂
- Ground Meat: Some folks use ground lamb for the filling, but my family has only ever used ground beef.
- Parsley: I recommend flat-leaf parsley rather than curly parsley because it has more flavor.
- Chicken Broth: While you can certainly use homemade chicken broth or stock for this recipe, we usually use canned broth to simplify what is already a time consuming recipe. The broth is thinned out with a bit of water, so it feels a bit wasteful to use homemade broth since it’s diluted. You are welcome to use canned or homemade.
- Yogurt: Use plain unflavored yogurt here. It can be a thick Greek-style yogurt or any other kind you prefer. If the yogurt is very thick, you can thin it out with a little water until you reach your desired consistency for the sauce.
- Sumac: Sumac is a tart, purple Middle-Eastern spice that derives from dried and ground berries of the wild sumac flower. You can find it on its own (as it’s used here) or included in the spice blend za’atar. If you can’t find it in the spice aisle of your supermarket, check the international aisle or find it in Middle Eastern markets. If you can’t find it, you can still enjoy manti without this finishing touch.
How to make sini manti
Beat together eggs, water, salt, and olive oil. I make the dough in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, however you can also make it by hand. Add the flour to the mixer bowl, then add the wet mixture and mix for 3 to 4 minutes until smooth and pliable. Cover the dough with a tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes.
To make the filling, mix together ground beef, minced onion, parsley, salt, pepper, and paprika, and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease pans with butter and set aside.
Here’s how to do it with a pasta roller. Cut off small pieces of dough to work with a little at a time (PHOTO 1). Dust the piece of dough with flour and carefully stretch and flatten it into a rough rectangle.
Run this piece of dough through the pasta roller at the widest setting (typically #1 on the dial) (PHOTO 2). Then fold it over itself once or twice, flatten again with your hands (PHOTO 3), and run it through the machine again on the same setting (PHOTO 4).
Proceed to the next widest setting (typically #2 on the dial) and run the dough through the machine. Then keep going, running your dough only once through each subsequent level until you reach your desired thickness. Aim for #4 on the Kitchenaid attachment for optimal thickness.
Cut each strip of dough into 1 ½ inch squares. Place ½ teaspoon meat filling into the center of each square and pinch the two ends with your fingers to form a canoe-shaped dumpling.
Repeat with the remaining dough and meat filling. Arrange the manti close together in the buttered pans. Dot the tops with bits of butter (PHOTO 5), and bake until golden and crisp (PHOTO 6).
Meanwhile, make the yogurt-garlic sauce by mixing together yogurt, minced or crushed garlic, and a little salt. Add chicken broth and water to a saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
When the manti are golden brown, remove the pans from the oven and ladle the broth mixture over the top. The pan will sizzle. The broth should fill the pan about ¾ of the way up the manti (PHOTO 7). Reserve the rest of the broth for serving.
Return the pans to the oven and bake for 10 minutes longer until most of the broth is absorbed into the manti, and about ¼-inch of broth remains on the bottom (PHOTO 8). They will absorb some of the broth and slightly plump up, yielding a crispy-chewy-soft texture.
Remove the pans from the oven and serve in individual wide bowls, ladling some more of the hot broth over it. To finish, drizzle yogurt and garlic sauce and sprinkle sumac generously over the top. And there you have it! The best manti ever!
Expert tips and FAQs
To freeze: prepare the manti through the first baking step before adding the broth. Cool in trays and wrap with foil. Freeze in the trays, or freeze in freezer bags and then reassemble in a single layer into trays before finishing. To finish cooking: defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Bake them in trays at 400°F for about 10 minutes, then add the hot broth and continue with the steps as instructed.
Some people take short-cuts and use wonton wrappers. I don't recommend this. Making manti is a tedious process, but you will taste the difference if you go the extra mile and make your own dough from scratch.
Years ago, my Armenian grandmothers would roll out the dough with a rolling pin, and cut it with a knife into squares for assembly. Since then, a pasta rolling machine has made life easier. A pizza cutter has replaced the knife for faster cutting. If you have a Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment, I highly recommend it to make the process even faster. The faster you make it, the faster you can eat it!
It still helps to have an extra pair of hands (or more) to assemble these morsels because even with the newest dough-rolling technology, they can be a lot of work, but so worth it!
My family typically does a factory-style set-up. We make the dough in our Kitchenaid stand mixer. While it rests we butter the pans, and mix together the ground beef mixture. One of us rolls out portions of dough using the Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment. Another then cuts the ribbons of dough into squares, while yet another dots the top of each square with a spoonful of beef. Then we pinch the dumplings closed and arrange them in the pans. Repeat.
If you bake the manti in a darker pan (such as a non-stick pan) they will brown much faster than in a lighter colored metal pan. In that case bake it for less time just until the dumplings are golden brown.
If you multiply this recipe and make additional pans of Armenian manti you should rotate the pans from top to bottom partway through cooking so they brown evenly. You may also need to bake them a bit longer so all the pans are evenly browned.
Manti (mante) are dumplings common throughout the South Caucasus and Central Asia. They are made and consumed by different cultures including Armenians and Turks. The concept of manti first reached Cilician Armenia through cultural interactions between Armenians and Mongols in the 13th century. Then Migrating Turkic-speaking peoples learned of manti from the Armenians and took it with them to Anatolia, where it became popular. Nowadays with borders much different than those in the 13th century (and Armenia much smaller than it once was), manti is considered to be Western Armenian cuisine and is less prevalent in Armenia proper.
Other recipes you may like
- Armenian Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Armenian Meatball Soup
- Chorek (Armenian Sweet Bread)
- Armenian Gata
- Roza's Tas Kebab
- Sini Kofte (Baked Kofte)
- Kashke Bademjan (Persian Eggplant Dip)
- Manti Dumplings
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Armenian Manti (Baked Beef Dumplings)
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus more as needed
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion minced (about ⅓ cup)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped or crushed
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter plus more for greasing pans
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or chicken stock
- 1 ½ cups water
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sumac for serving
- Beat together the eggs, water, salt, and olive oil.
- To make the dough by hand, fill a large mixing bowl with the flour and make a well in the center. Add the wet ingredients to the well. Slowly incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients until a ball of dough is formed. Alternatively to make the dough in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flour to the mixer bowl, then add the wet ingredients and mix for 3 to 4 minutes until smooth and pliable. If the dough is sticky add a bit of flour as needed, and continue to mix/knead the dough until smooth. Cover the dough with a tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Mix together the ground beef, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, and paprika until well incorporated. Refrigerate until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Grease 2 (13 by 9-inch) baking pans or 1 larger (13 by 18-inch) pan with butter and set aside.
- Using a hand-cranked pasta roller or a rolling pin, in batches roll out the dough until it's very thin, dusting the dough with flour as needed. If using the Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment, roll until #4 for thickness (see notes below).
- On a lightly floured surface, cut each strip of dough into 1 ½ inch squares. Place a ½ teaspoon of meat filling into the center of each square and pinch the two ends with your fingers to form a canoe-shaped dumpling.
- Repeat with the remaining dough and meat filling. Arrange the manti close together in the buttered pans. Dot the tops of the manti with bits of butter, and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, mix the yogurt and garlic, and season with salt. Set aside.
- Add the chicken broth and water to a saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
- When the manti are golden brown, remove the pans from the oven and ladle the broth mixture over the manti. The broth should fill the pan about ¾ of the way up the manti. Reserve the rest of the broth for serving.
- Return the pans to the oven and bake for 10 minutes longer until most of the broth is absorbed into the manti, and about ¼-inch of broth (or less) remains on the bottom and the manti have slightly plumped up. They will have a firmer than al dente texture, with a slight crunch at the ends, but you can bake them longer with the broth if you want a slightly softer texture.
- Remove the pans from the oven and serve manti in individual wide bowls, ladling some more of the hot broth over it. Top with yogurt-garlic sauce and sumac. Enjoy!
- To roll the dough with a manual pasta roller or Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment: Cut off a 4 ½ to 5 ½ ounce piece of dough (approximate) from the large ball of dough in the mixing bowl, and cover the remaining dough with a clean kitchen towel. Lightly flour your work surface and the small piece of dough and carefully stretch and press it into a rough rectangle. With the pasta roller on its widest setting (usually #1 on the dial), roll the dough through the machine to flatten and stretch it. With the machine still on the widest setting, fold the dough back over itself and run it through the machine again. Do this 2 or 3 times total, lightly flouring the dough if necessary in between. Then one at a time, adjust the dial to the next widest setting (#2) and run the dough through the machine again one time. Then tighten it to next thickness and repeat. And so on. You'll do this until you reach your desired thickness. On the Kitchenaid pasta roller attachment we like setting #4 for the optimal thickness.
- To freeze: prepare the trays of manti through step 7 (before adding the broth). After cooling they can be wrapped in foil and frozen in their trays, or they can be frozen in freezer bags and then reassembled in a single layer into trays before finishing. To finish cooking: defrost the manti overnight in the refrigerator. Bake them in trays at 400°F for about 10 minutes, then add the hot broth and continue with the following steps as instructed.
- If you bake the manti in a darker pan (such as a non-stick pan) they will brown much faster than in a lighter colored metal pan. In that case bake it for less time just until the manti are golden brown.
- If you multiply this recipe and make additional pans of manti you should bake half the pans in the upper third of your oven and the other half the pans in the lower third of your oven (make them fit as best as you can). Rotate the pans from top to bottom and bottom to top partway through cooking so they brown evenly. You may need to bake them a bit longer (around 1 hour) so all the pans are evenly browned. Doubling the amount of pans in the oven will make them collectively bake a bit slower.
- This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*