Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Yogurtlu makarna: Turkish pasta with meat & yogurt-mint sauce

This pasta dish, according to Classical Turkish Cooking author Algar hanim, is a kind of cheats manti, or Turkish ravioli. It is absolutely delectable and super easy. If you are the type that tends to have mint around or even growing in the garden, you'll probably have everything to make this on a total whim. I know I did.

Unlike the Western way with spaghetti bolognese, meat is more of a condiment in this sauce. The real flavour, and it is bold and strident, is in the mint and the garlic. In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that the recipe name be changed to pasta with meat & yogurt-garlic-mint sauce! If you have any objections at all to raw garlic in food, this may not be the recipe for you. Everyone else gather round, because this is a real treat.

Before you start, get your yogurt out of the fridge as it needs to be at room temperature. Mine wasn't, and didn't get close to it before the pasta was ready, so I actually tossed the pasta-meat mixture with the yogurt sauce in the pan and heated it, very gently, through.

I also bypassed the paprika-butter flourish (so-called by the doyenne of North African and Mediterranean cooking, Paula Wolfert), mainly due to the cost of butter in Japan these days. But I know from my time in Turkey (where I saw butter in logs that must have easily weighed 2 kg!), that toppings like this add a real richness and flavour to a dish. Given the small amount of meat in the dish, I'd say that if butter is not a luxury item in your neighbourhood then you should definitely go for it!

Yogurtlu makarna: Turkish pasta with meat & yogurt-mint sauce

Serves 4

Meat sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onions
250 g minced meat
1-2 chillies, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 sprigs thyme
Handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Yogurt-mint sauce
3 cups yogurt, at room temperature
2-3 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

450 g penne or rigatoni (S: I used fusili)

Butter paprika topping
5 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
Pinch of cayenne

Fresh mint leaves for garnish

1 To make the sauce, cook the onions in olive oil until soft. Add meat, chillies (if using), thyme, and parsley and brown the meat. Stir in a few tablespoons of water, season with salt and pepper, cover, and simmer 10 minutes, adding more water, if necessary.

2 To make the yogurt-mint sauce, put all ingredients in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is very creamy. Set aside on a warm spot on the stove.

3 Cook and strain the pasta, and reheat the meat sauce. Toss the pasta with the hot meat sauce and place in a serving bowl. Pour the yogurt-mint sauce over it.

4 For the topping, heat the butter until frothy, add the paprika and cayenne, wait one second, and drizzle it over the yogurt-mint sauce. Sprinkle the top with mint leaves cut into ribbons and serve hot.



NASSOS said...

It is really tasty food. A time-consumed manti substitution.
Thank you

Saffron said...

Thanks for your comment Nassos. Yeah, I've read tons of recipes for manti, but they all sound a bit daunting. This is very doable, though (g).

I checked out your blog, and the photos are stunning!(Unfortunately I don't read Greek, though...) Orhan Pamuk is amaaazing, isn't he? My Name is Red is a masterpiece.