When I used to live in Turkey in the mid 1990s, one of the best foods I tasted there was manti, meat-filled dumplings served with a warm yogurt sauce. I had a Turkish friend, Sumer, who knew a place in her neighborhood that made the best ones, and we'd get them as take-out and watch movies at her apartment. I never tried tackling them, since dumplings can be time-consuming, but when this recipe appeared in last week's NY Times for an easy version of them, I decided to give them a try. I was worried they wouldn't live up to memory, but in fact, they were terrific. So good, in fact, that I will certainly make them again. Hearty, rich, creamy, spicy, yum... but it's necessary to use the real ingredients here-- shallots and not onions, Greek yogurt and not plain Ameican yogurt... I did, however, use beef instead of ground lamb because I'm just not that crazy about ground lamb, and I used parsley instead of dill because I couldn't find it...
1 large eggplant, cut in 1/2 -inch cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, preferably Turkish or Aleppo
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 pound bowtie or orecchiette pasta
2 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Boil water for pasta. Toss eggplant with 4 Tblsp. oil and a generous pinch salt. Spread on baking sheet and roast until crisp and brown, 15-20 minutes.
In a skillet, heat 1 Tblsp oil. Saute 2 of the garlic cloves and shallot for 1-2 min. Add beef, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, cook until done. Stir in parsley at end and saute another 2 minutes. Mix in eggplant.
Cook pasta. Meanwhile, melt as much butter as you want to use, cooking until it turns golden brown, about 5 min. In a separate bowl, mix together yogurt, remaining garlic and pinch of salt.
Drain pasta, place on serving platter. Top with meat-eggplant mixture, then yogurt sauce. Pour melted butter over top. Garnish with more parsley and pepper.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings.