Mini Meatball Manti Macaroni
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
If you haven’t had manti before, I’d urge you to go to your favourite Turkish or Afghan restaurant to try it asap. They’re beautiful meaty dumplings stuffed into a thick dumpling wrapper and topped with a sweet tomato sauce, garlicky yogurt and butter. I love manti with all my heart but if I’m being honest, I find the process of making dumplings tedious and for me, it’s only happening on very special occasions. This (almost) one pot pasta makes manti more of an every day indulgence, with all the flavours and textures of the dumpling. Pasta aficionados be warned - this is by no means an al dente pasta. In this dish, we’re going after the textures of a manti dumpling, so think soft and juicy. I promise you will love it though!
Mini Meatball Manti Macaroni
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Yield: 6-8 servings
For the Meatballs and Pasta
500 g ground lamb
1 white onion, grated
1/4 cups fresh parsley, minced (reserve a little for garnish)
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
3 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni (you can use any short pasta for this really)
1 bay leaf
7 cups vegetable broth or water + 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
For the Sweet Tomato Butter Sauce
1/4 cup salted butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes (sub crushed red chili flakes)
2 tsp crushed red chili flakes (optional)
1 tsp dried sumac (optional)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs honey
156 ml (about 5.2 oz) tomato paste (one small can)
1 cup water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas or split peas (optional)
For the Garlic Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, grated
Water, as needed
Make the meatballs. Combine the lamb, grated onion, parsley, egg, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl. Mix well with your hands until everything is incorporated and thoroughly mixed. The meatball mixture should be a little tacky.
In a large, deep saucepan or pot, heat about 1 tbs of olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add the meatballs (try to add in a single layer and do not stack). Let the meatballs sit untouched for a minute or two, then gently stir to start browning the other sides. Repeat this process of letting the meatballs sit and gently stirring for 6-10 minutes, or until the meatballs are browned on the outside and no longer pink - they do not need to be fully cooked. Make sure to be gentle with them at this stage so they do not break.
Add the uncooked macaroni, broth/water and bouillon cube, salt to taste, and bay leaf. If using broth instead of water and a bouillon cube, reduce the amount of salt you add. Reduce the heat to medium/medium low, cover, and let it simmer for 12-15 mins until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is cooked. You still want a fair amount of broth in the pan, as this pasta is meant to be juicy like a manti dumpling. Remove the pasta from heat once fully cooked through.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sweet tomato butter sauce and the garlic yogurt. Start with the tomato sauce. In a medium sized saucepan or pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the dried mint, crushed red pepper flakes, sumac, and ground cumin. Stir well and allow the spices to fry lightly for 30-45 seconds, stirring the whole time so not to burn, before adding the honey, tomato paste and water. Stir to fully combine into a thin sauce. Taste and add salt if needed, then stir in the cooked chickpeas/split peas if using. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the garlic sauce. Combine the plain yogurt and grated garlic. I used 10% yogurt, so I added about 1/4 cup of water to thin it out. If using a lower percentage yogurt, you may want to skip the water.
Assemble the manti pasta. Scoop out the brothy pasta either in a single serving in a bowl, or dish out all of the pasta on a serving platter. Dollop with the sweet tomato butter sauce, and then drizzle with the garlic yogurt. Serve immediately.
This pasta is meant to be brothy and juicy, and the pasta is meant to be on the softer side.
You can use ground beef, a mixture of beef/chicken or beef/turkey, or even vegan/meat free mince in this dish instead of lamb, but lamb will give you the most authentic manti taste.