Uzbek Steamed Lamb Dumpling Recipe
For a long time, my family stayed away from dumplings. Dumplings, so the memory goes, recalled my great grandmother's era and the Southern-style dumplings that she used to make. Apparently, these are wildly popular in the South of the U.S. and consist simply of balls of dough that are dropped into soup. I myself do not see the attraction, but apparently there must be one. It was only when I went to Poland and had Polish pierogis that this started to change.
These dumplings hail from Uzbekistan—being called manti there—and are a combination of onions, lamb, pepper, cilantro, and beef (or lamb stock), which combine together to make a very strong and savory dish. My family compared it to being like some sort of fusion dish of Asian meats and a European-style meat pie from the dumplings. There's also the superb (and vital) yogurt-garlic sauce that accompanies it, providing a creamy and hydrating substance that completes it. They are easy to eat while still having substance and have all of the brilliant strength of lamb combined with the dumplings, which have additional taste worked into them by steaming over water. While the recipe is a relatively lengthy one to complete (in my instance it took around 2 hours, not counting the yogurt and garlic sauce that you must prepare beforehand), the completed dish is well worth it.
This recipe is adopted from I believe is probably my favorite cookbook of all time, Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook by Anya von Bremzen. There are a huge number of recipes from within, and I've never found a bad one—even the ones that are marginal by the standards of the tome are still excellent. I heartily recommend purchasing the book so you can get the complete collection of recipes, and in particular the original recipes, before my own alterations.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, (plus salt to taste for the lamb filling)
- pinch of garlic powder
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 2 medium-sized onions, either very finely chopped or ground
- 1/3 cup beef or lamb stock
- 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (the 3 tablespoons can use mint instead)
- 5 tablespoons butter, cut into as many pieces as there are dumplings
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 medium-sized garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons, black pepper
- The first element to prepare is the yogurt and garlic sauce, which is a vital accompaniment to the meal and which has to be prepared at least around 12 hours before. It can last a lengthy period of time once made however - in my case I wasn't able to use it for some 6 days after making it, and it lasted fine in a container in the refrigerator. Combine together 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 2 minced garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons of finely shopped cilantro or mint, and a small amount of salt, to taste. Let marinate for at least 12 hours.
- Prepare the dough when making the meal itself. Combine the 1/2 teaspoon salt along with the 2 1/2 cups of flour in a large bowl. Mix together, then add in the 2 egg yolks, blending together. Then in a slow steady stream add the 2/3 cup of water mixed with the 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, until a ball of dough starts to form. Proceed to let rest in a warm place, covered with a cotton cloth, for 1/2 hour.
- Combine together the ground lamb, beef or lamb stock, salt to taste, the peeled and finely chopped or ground onions, chopped 1/2 cup cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, and salt to taste. Make sure the ingredients are well integrated together.
- Roll the ball of dough out extremely thinly, to 1/16 inch if possible, essentially as thin as it can be made. Then use a dough cutter to cut 4 or 4 1/2 inch circles in this. Place a piece of butter into each of these, then a ball of meat, perhaps around 2-3 inches across. Enclose this and pinch the dough together with hands wetted with a small amount of cold water. In my case, there were slightly over 16 dumplings.
- Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a steamer. Apply non-stick agent or grease the metal steamer on top. Add as many of the dumplings as can fit without undue crowding, and steam, tightly covered, for around 20 minutes. If necessary, do multiple batches.
- Remove finished dumplings and cover while any remaining ones are finished. Spoon the yogurt and garlic sauce over the top at serving time.