When making this, the smell in the air reminded me of my nene (Kamil’s mum). I’d often walk into the kitchen in Cyprus and she would be chopping, rolling or peeling something with her leathery looking but somehow delicately soft hands. The horizon just peeking out of the kitchen window and the smell of fresh dough in the air. The kindest woman, whose only goal in life was to make sure everyone was fed, happy and comfortable. This one is for my nene.
Photography: Haarala Hamilton
Season: Summer/Autumn/Year Round
For the dough
1.2kg ‘00’ flour, plus extra for dusting
For the filling
250g lamb mince
10g oz flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and black pepper
For the yogurt sauce
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp pul biber
pinch of dried mint
Start off with the dough – I made mine in a mixer. Add the egg to the flour, start to mix and slowly add 530ml water. Once it comes together evenly and there’s no flour left in the mixing bowl, tip the dough out on to your work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. It’s quite a stiff dough but, once it’s smooth, wrap it in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Place the lamb mince in a bowl, mix in the parsley and season generously with salt and pepper.
When the dough is ready for rolling, lightly flour the work surface (don’t go too heavy as it will make shaping the dumplings harder). Split the dough into three pieces. Take a piece and roll out into a rough square – we need to get it pretty thin and you should be able to see your fingers through the dough. Repeat this with each piece and portion the dough into 4cm in squares.
Now fill each square with about ¼ teaspoon of filling. Honestly, this is a bit of a long process but if you get everyone together to help, you’ll smash it. Before my book, the last time I made manti was years ago and I got my mum and sister to help.
I find shaping the dumplings easier if you’re holding them in your hand. Also my back is super bad, so hunching over the worktop to roll just under 150 dumplings is backbreaking. You want the little square of dough to be the points of a compass when you look down on it. So bring south to north and pinch the two points together. Next, bring the eastern point to the top two. When folding the edges you’ll be left with two straight edges on that side; pinch those together, making sure it’s sealed. Do the same on the other side. Basically, do that 150 times and you’re done.
The yogurt sauce is pretty straightforward. Mix the yogurt and garlic with 3 tbsp water in a bowl.
The last bit of prep you need to do is melt the butter until it’s brown. You want to take it to the point where it smells like butterscotch, making sure it’s golden and not burnt. Add the pul biber and take it off the heat. The pul biber will make the butter foam, so make sure you do this in a fairly deep saucepan.
Boil the little dumplings in salted water for about 3 minutes, until they start to float to the top and turn translucent.
Strain the water and spoon the dumplings out into a bowl (you need about 30 per portion). Dollop over the yogurt – you want about 2 tablespoons yogurt per portion.
Drizzle over the pul biber butter and finish with a pinch of dried mint. Turkish pasta mate.
Hasan’s food is laced with familiar Mediterranean influences from his Cypriot heritage as well as from his time working in professional kitchens across London, and the way he writes is entirely true to him. Reading his cookbook is like sharing a meal with him, side by side at the same table. He welcomes you into his home and the food he grew up eating. Big Has HOME: Recipes from north London to north Cyprus (Pavilion Books). Photography Haarala Hamilton.