Mantu and Boolawnee (Afghani dumplings and leek pastries).

Mantu are spiced, minced lamb dumplings, fried then steamed like Chinese jioaza, then ‘dabbed’ (not liberally coated) with a tomato sauce, minted yoghurt and some chopped coriander and spring onion. I have made them a few times, they are a crowd pleaser and quite easy. So easy that I cooked both the dumplings and the leek pastries on the fire outside since the weather was so stunning this weekend. Glossary: Baharat is a Lebanese 7 spice blend, perfect with lamb, obviously not Afghani but a good substitute.

The tomato sauce is just a shallot, finely chopped and fried in olive oil with 1/2 clove of garlic until softened. Add 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped and a pinch of baharat. Season with salt and pepper and reduce and cook for 5 minutes. The yoghurt is a sheep milk yoghurt mixed with dried mint to taste.

For the Dumplings you will need: 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 shallots, finely chopped, 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, 500 g lamb mince, 1 tsp baharat, 1 tsp tomato paste, salt and pepper, chilli flakes or freshly chopped birdseye to taste, 1 packet of 30 sheet gow gee wrappers.

For the filling: fry the shallots and garlic in the oil over a medium heat until softened and lightly coloured, turn up the heat and add the lamb. Fry the lamb until browned, add the baharat, tomato paste and chilli then season to taste, stir and cook another minute, reduce any liquid if necessary by cooking further. Cool the mix before filling the dumplings.

To fill: put a heaped teaspoon of the mince on one half of a gow gee wrapper, wet the outside of the half with the filling, fold the other half over the filling and seal by pinching the edges together making a flat bottom as you go. Have a look at this post on for filling and cooking the similar Chinese jioaza.

To cook you will need a fry pan with a lid, some frying oil and a cup of water at the ready: Heat a smear of oil, I used grape seed, and when a dumpling makes a nice frying noise when it hits the oil put in enough dumplings to fill the pan without any touching. Fry a minute until the bottoms of the dumplings are browned then add enough water to come half way up the sides of the dumplings, cover with the lid. When the water is nearly evaporated, take the lid off the pan and reduce the remaining liquid until the dumplings start to fry again. They are ready when they come away from the bottom of the pan easily, which also means they have crisped up from the second frying.

Dot them with the tomato sauce, yoghurt, sliced spring onion and fresh coriander.

For these babies you need: 2 cups of plain flour with 1/2 tsp salt and 2/3 cup cold water, also for the filling: 1 leek, more salt, olive oil and chilli flakes and grape seed oil for frying. Make a well in the flour and salt, add the water, you know the drill, make a dough, knead 5 minutes, rest 1/2 an hour or until you are going to make them. Chop the leek into a small dice, in a bowl mix the leek with 2 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. With your hand macerate or knead the leek mixture to soften.

Roll the dough into a sausage, cup off 1 cm pieces and roll each into roughly 10cm disks. Fill one half with 1 teaspoon of leek mixture, wet the edge with water and fold the other half of the dough over to cover, pinch or press the edges together with a teaspoon or more traditionally a thimble.

Heat enough grape seed oil in a fry pan to just cover the pastries when 3 or 4 are added depending on the size of your pan. Fry until browned then turn and fry the other side. Serve and eat straight away, they are better when the pastry is hot and crunchy, they soften pretty quickly.


2 thoughts on “Mantu and Boolawnee (Afghani dumplings and leek pastries).

  1. These look and sound delicious. I really like the idea of a fried and steamed dumpling, get the best of both. Will definitely try these out next time I’m trying to impress some friends. Thanks Lucy.

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