May 18, 2010


I miss lots of things about Georgia.  No, no.  Again, that GeorgiaKhinkali is high on that list.

Unfortunately, getting the proper number of pleats in the right kind of wrapper seems nigh on impossible and so I'm reluctant to even try it.  But I do crave it between about Mtskhetoba and New Year's Eve and then again every time it really rains in the spring.

Luckily, while hunting for something entirely different, I ran across something new and different that might meet (some) of my needs without going overboard: an Afghan version of dumplings of a similar nature that seems to be called mantu.

After surveying several recipes the basics seemed simple enough: savory beef with lots of local seasonings in wanton skins, steamed, and then served with a mint yogurt and possibly lentils.

Not khinkali but it sure sounded promising.  And it was.  But I couldn't help but mess around a bit with the recipes; I know enough about cumin, turmeric, and thickening to at least try adding tomato paste to thicken.

I'm going to skip the lentils; they didn't work.  We'll focus on the actual dumplings.


Roughly a pound of ground beef (nothing below 85/15 please; 70/30 is just tasty)
About two small or one large onions; finely chopped
Garlic; garlic never hurts; finely chopped

Let the onion cook through to a firm but translucent state.  Add:

1/2 can of tomato paste
Generous amounts of cumin
Decent amounts of both coriander and turmeric

At this point I'd also probably add some green onion in the future but I didn't on this run.

Let that simmer and thicken.  In the meantime, combine:

Yogurt -- the fuller the fat the better
Mint -- for one small rameken of yogurt I think I used 8 sprigs, chopped coarsely

Get a steamer ready and pull out your wonton wrappers.  I halved them (you know, the big ones); it seemed to work.

Once the meat is nearly cooked through, spoon it on the paper and wrap as you see fit.  If you've never worked with wonton wrappers, well, wet the edges?  It's really not that complicated.  Fold up and steam until the meat is done and the papers are quite soft and somewhat translucent.  Do this in batches until you've either run out of meat mix or run out of wrappers.

Serve with the chilled yogurt mix.  Hot if you can.

It may not be authentic mantu.  It's definitely not khinkali.  But it is damn good.


  1. Sounds promising....too bad there isn't an authentic Kartvelebi (did I use that right?) restaurant to get my feet wet- at least not in the mid-west US :(

    I haven't ever used turmeric for anything other than bread and butter pickles- must expand horizons.

  2. ქართული (kartuli) is probably right based on context. and there are none here either; everything is based on memories, google, and