Armenian Cooking with Vicky Karamanukian: Manté

Argentina has one of the largest populations of people with Armenian descent in the world, with about 135,000 living in the country. Armenian culture can be seen in everyday life, especially in Buenos Aires, which is filled with Armenian restaurants.

By Google Arts & Culture

Allie Lazar

Chef With Manté

My Big Fat Armenian Family

“Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Family? Well, that’s my family, except Armenian,” Vicky Karamanukian explains as she rolls the dough for manté, a traditional Armenian dish generally eaten on special occasions and popular in Armenian-Argentine kitchens. The granddaughter of Armenian immigrants, food is Vicky’s life.

Armenians Live to Eat

“Armenians live to eat,” she said, explaining that cooking is a huge part of Armenian culture. “We are always thinking about what to eat and talking about eating, it’s a fundamental part of family life.” 

Cooked Mante

Manté for a Special Occasion

Vicky, who is 28 years old has cooked professionally for nearly 10 years. She learned the ways of the kitchen by watching her grandmothers, especially her Abuela Rosa. Every Sunday they’d go to her grandmother’s house, with the extended family, nearly 20 people, and eat huge spreads of Armenian and Middle Eastern delicacies. “It was always special when manté was on the table.” 

Full Mante

Like a Mini Ravioli, Tortellini or Dumpling

Manté, also known as manti, has Armenian and Turkish origins, but became very popular especially amongst Argentines for its familiar flavors. It consists of a dough stuffed with spiced meat, like a mini ravioli, tortellini, or dumpling. Unlike its dumpling cousins across Central Asia, Armenian manté are spiced with red pepper flakes, covered in a shallow layer of soup broth, and baked in the oven until golden brown. Then, it is served with yogurt and garlic. 

Manté Flour

Step 1: Making the dough

Vicky places the flour on a clean service and makes a well in the middle. Then she cracks one egg and pours it in a measuring cup, and adds water until it hits the 250 cc mark.

Vicky Mixing Dough

Kneading the Dough

She pours the egg mixture slowly into the dough and mixes with her hands. She begins to incorporate the egg mixture with the dough and knead. She lets the dough rest for about 20 minutes. 

Spices

Feeling Spicy

“Usually my grandmother would do this by feeling. But I measure so that it always tastes consistent.” Vicky says the difference between her manté in Argentina, and manté in the Middle East, probably is the amount of spices used. In Argentina, generally, people don’t add much spice and seasoning due to their sensitive palates, as it’s not a cuisine accustomed to strong spices. Vicky likes to add a little bit but doesn’t want to overpower the dish. Her secret? Adding a pinch of allspice. 

Vicky Mixing Manté Meat

Step 2: Make the Filling

While the dough is resting, she takes the minced meat and mixes it with the chopped onion, parsley and spices. She blends it together lightly with her hands, but not too much, so it doesn’t get too compact. 

Divide Dough

Step 3: Prepare the Dough

Vicky cuts the dough into 4 equal pieces. She rolls it out with a pasta maker. Then, with a knife, she cuts the dough in tiny squares. She sets all the tiny squares on the table and begins to form the mini dumplings, adding a teaspoon of meat into each one. 

Adding Filling

Laborious and Special

“It takes me about 40 minutes to make a large manté, it’s laborious. That’s why it’s so special, it takes so much time to assemble, it’s not everyday food. Lately, I’ve been making nearly 60 every week. It’s a lot of work," Victoria says.

Assembly

Step 4: Assemble and Bake

Vicky uses a large round baking dish, spreads it with melted butter, and begins to assemble the manté in a hypnotic circular form. She spoons in a little bit of broth, until it reaches half way onto the dumpling, and bakes it in the oven until it is golden brown. 

Finishing

Step 5: Serve

She takes it out of the oven, and covers it with yogurt and chopped garlic. “It’s quite simple, but represents so much.” 

The Recipe
Dough
½ kilo refined flour
1 egg + water up to 250 cc mark
1 tablespoon salt

Filling
½ kilo beef, lean cut like brisket
150 g onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon ground chili pepper
Pinch of allspice
Salt & pepper, to taste

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