The Cushion House - my attempt at making Manti

I've recently moved back to my hometown, Adelaide. However before departing I had to go back to one of my favourite Turkish places in Sydney. Lucky enough, my flatmates had the same idea. They kindly took me out to dinner to wish me luck and the destination, The Cushion House in Glebe.

Now for those who read my European Food Safari post, you would have seen that my favourite yoghurt based meal in Europe was a dish I had in Turkey called Iskender. The other dish I also love is called Manti. It's like little turkish meat filled dumplings with a beautiful yoghurt and garlic sauce, finished off with a rich tomato sauce and paprika. It's such a nice and fresh dish. Often meat filled dumplings can be heavy, however at The Cushion House the manti is done so small and so perfectly that with two bites, they melt. The yoghurt on top adds a tang and helps with digestion. A little tip, share a pide and manti with someone and get some turkish bread to dip in the leftover yoghurt sauce. The pide is made fresh.

Also at The Cushion House is amazing Iskender. Honestly, try it. The meat is light, the yoghurt tangy and the paprika and chilli adds a little heat. One flatmate had falafal and said it was excellent and the hummous was great.

I love manti so much, that I thought I'd make it...

The ingredients include:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- minced meat
- basil (although you are supposed to use parsley)
- 4 cloves garlic
- Onion
- Yoghurt
- 1 tbs tomato paste (to taste)

To make the pastry, mix the flour, egg and salt until a dough is formed. Then to make the filling, mix the mince meat, finely chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves and basic in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

After adding the meat mixture to the pastry put the manti in boiling water. Once they reach the top, they are ready.

For the sauce, mix 2 garlic cloves (or to taste) and yoghurt in a bowl. Pour over manti as soon as it's cooked. Then in a saucepan mix oil and tomato paste until hot. Then add chilli flakes. Put a little on top of the yoghurt.

While I love this in a turkish restaurant...I have to say it didn't work out the same for me. It was ok, but I need to improve a lot next time - I wasn't even game to have my flatmates try it. I'll cook the garlic and onion in oil a little before mixing it with the mince meat. I'll use parsley instead of basil for sure. I'll also put a lot less of the meat mixture in there and make the manti smaller (I've since read a recipe which says to cut the pastry in a square of 1.5cm - http://www.giverecipe.com/manti-recipe.html)

So I have to say...while this does demonstrate how versatile yoghurt is...I didn't do this traditional turkish dish justice. Sorry Turkey (and to my Turkish friend Sinan)!

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