UZBEKISTAN: Manti

I was down in Toronto this weekend, and got a chance to stop by an Uzbek restaurant. Toronto’s magic is having restaurants for almost every cuisine in the world: there’s three dedicated Uzbek spots….and they all happen to be in the same two blocks! I went for lunch at Samarkand Hall – they had fantastic decor and really friendly staff.

I went for a plate of manti – huge steamed dumplings, filled with spiced ground lamb and topped with caramelized onions and dill, with sour cream on the side. They were fantastic – I hoovered them down!

Manti are eaten throughout the Turkic-speaking world, and vary in size, filling, and topping, depending on location – Central Asian ones are usually these huge steamed dumplings, and are sometimes filled with pumpkin, cabbage, or beef, as well as lamb in Uzbekistan.

It’s likely the name manti comes from the same etymology as Chinese mantou, but mantou has shifted to mean steamed buns instead of dumplings in China. The manti I had reminded me of giant xiaolongbao in terms of shape and texture, but the flavour profile of the meat, dill, onion, and sour cream felt more Eurasian – not unlike how you serve pierogies.

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