Manti: A Recipe of The Refugees Who Empowered Me

Manti is one of those dishes that evoke waves and waves of memories of my time in Yerevan, Armenia.

Armenian manti is a landmark recipe of the Western Armenian repertoire influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine.

This authentic cuisine was brought back to life by waves of Syrian refugees of Armenian descent who fled to their motherland in the aftermath of the ravaging civil war in Syria.

Finished Dish of Manti

My story with Western Armenian cuisine started four years ago.

For what it is worth, I am a trailing spouse who moves every three years to a new destination. In 2016, my Yerevan was destined to be our new station.

Our arrival to Armenia coincided with an influx of Syrian refugees estimated back then by 17,000.

My first thoughts were to offer a few hours of my time, leveraging my native Arabic, to support the relief services offered to displaced families.

Yet, the few hours that I initially planned evolved to what I consider to be a whole new life experience that led to an in-depth self-discovery, and radical transformation of my life’s plans.

I had the honor to initiate an empowerment program for Syrian women that supported their reinvention from housewives to entrepreneurs.

Syrian refugee women were able to perceive their food heritage as a priceless asset to start a new chapter in their lives, where they became breadwinners, entrepreneurs, and strong advocates of their culture.

Their strong determination and success story was my impetus to look back on my life as well and summon my courage to live the life of my dream. But, how did this happen?

I invite you to listen to this podcast with Becky Hadid, the talented Food photographer and the creator of the Storied Recipe podcast. 

This podcast in many ways doccuments that unique experience that doesn’t revolve about me, it rather highlights the power of our food heritage to challenge stereotypes and transform lives.

After listening to the podcast, feel free to post your feedback, share this post, and recipe.

In case you make manti, we would love to see your rendition, don’t forget to hashtag #cheznermine

Armenian Manti

Serves 4-6 people


For the dough 

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

For the beef filling 

  • 200 grams of ground beef or lamb
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Yogurt-Garlic Sauce 

  • 1 cup  yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil


The Dough 

  1. Make the dough.  In a mixing bowl, add the flour, the egg, and the water. Knead everything well until a ball is formed. Let it rest for 20 minutes in an oiled bowl.
  2. Make the filling. Mix the meat, the spices, onions, garlic, parsley. Let the dough rest in an oiled bowl.
  3. Form the dumplings. Roll out the dough into a rectangular to a 2mm thickness and with a dough cutter or a knife, cut the dough into equal squares  2×2 cm. Dot each square with a 1/2 teaspoon of the beef/lamb filling and then pinch the two ends of the square to form a canoe-like shape.
  4. Arrange the dumplings next to one another in a circular shape in a heat resistant pan wiped with melted butter.  Brush the surface of the dumplings with melted butter and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the meat and the dough are cooked through.
  5. Transfer the dumplings to a serving dish and serve with a yogurt-garlic sauce. Sprinkle the sauce with a flutter of sumac.

Yogurt-Garlic Sauce 

  1. In a deep bowl, mix together, the yogurt, garlic powder, olive oil, and salt and pepper.


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Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here:

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