Make Ahead

Afghan Dumplings with Lamb Kofta and Yogurt Sauce

April  5, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Makes 25 dumplings
Author Notes

This is a recipe from Afghan Cooking Unveiled, the blog I write along with Humaira Ghilzai. It comes from Humaira's mother, Jeja. Traditionally Aushak is made in community: families gather and assemble the dumplings. Then, everyone sits down to a delicious meal together. This dumpling is traditionally filled with something called gandana, which is in the onion family. Since gandana is hard to find, we use scallions instead. - Katie Morford —Katie Sullivan Morford

Test Kitchen Notes

This Afghan dish (known as aushak) is destined to become our new favorite comfort food. Much like a meaty ravioli, deconstructed, the filling components are divided and their flavors concentrated -- the wonton wrapper is filled with a sharp, peppery scallion paste, and warmly spiced tomato lamb sauce is strewn across the top. A cooling yogurt sauce tempers the kick and pulls it all together. The most magical part? All of these pieces come together swiftly, especially if you can round up a helper or two for dumpling assembly. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound scallions, washed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup plain, whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  1. In a large pan, saute the chopped onion over medium heat in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the lamb and sauté until cooked through, breaking it up like finely minced taco meat. Add the tomato sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, the paprika, coriander and black pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly for 20 minutes. Set aside.
  2. While the meat is cooking, trim the root off the scallions and finely chop, using the entire onion (both white and dark green parts). A food processor is useful here. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the green onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the crushed red pepper. Turn heat to low and sauté until tender, 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. To assemble the dumplings, fill a small bowl with water and put it at your work station. Set a won ton wrapper on your work surface and dip your finger into the water. Moisten the edges along two connecting sides of the wrapper. The water will serve as glue for the dumpling. Put about a teaspoon of sauteed green onions in the center of the wrapper. Fold the dough in half over the green onion in the shape of a triangle. Use the tip of your finger to firmly press the edges of the dough together to form a tight seal. Next, lift the two longest points of the triangle and press them together, creating a little circle over the dumpling. It will look like a fancy napkin fold.
  4. While you are assembling the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Add the vinegar. Once all of the dumplings are done, immerse them in the water and boil according to directions on the won ton package (about 4 minutes).
  5. While the dumplings are boiling ,quickly make the yogurt sauce. Stir together the yogurt with the garlic and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
  6. Gingerly scoop the cooked dumplings out of the water with a slotted spoon, a few at a time, and arrange on a large platter. Spoon the yogurt over the dumplings and the ground meat on top of that. Sprinkle with dried mint and serve immediately.
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Katie is a freelance food and nutrition writer, a registered dietitan, author of the book Best Lunch Box Ever and the blog Mom's Kitchen Handbook: Raising Fresh-Food Kids in a French-Fried World (

73 Reviews

Michaelann May 25, 2024
I hesitated to make this for the longest time because I thought it would be too difficult. My yearning got too much for me so I went to the kitchen & started prepping. It wasn’t too difficult at all. I’m so happy I decided to give it go! It was delicious!
nyanya October 4, 2020
Fantastic recipe, as an Afghan I can say that this recipe is very authentic and delicious as it should be.
Darian September 8, 2019
Wow! My whole family agrees this dish was amazing! We love dumplings, and lamb, so this recipe was checking all the boxes from the get-go. For some reason, my anticipation level was more at "interested" than "excited" and I am so glad to have been wrong. The dumplings on their own were fantastic. I was quite surprised at how flavorful such a simple filling could be. The lamb ragu was off the charts! The yogurt sauce was the perfect balance. On the whole the dish was a little spicy, and little tangy, hearty and filling. I ended up with 27 dumplings and the 3 of us had zero problem eating all of them. It really didn't take very long for this whole meal to come together either, maybe 45 minutes, so definitely weeknight-eligible. I had never tried a recipe billed as Afghan before and now I'm motivated to explore this cuisine a little more. These dumplings with lamb and yogurt will definitely be on repeat at our house.
Charlee July 14, 2019
We (We being my husband LOL) made this recipe as written the first time and didn't enjoy the dumplings, especially for the amount of work involved. We've (both of us) made it many times since, just the lamb kofta & yogurt sauce, and served it over rice. It's not only divinely delicious, but sufficiently quick for weeknights. We use 2 lbs of lamb and more or less double everything else so we can have leftovers. Thank you so much!!
deanna1001 July 15, 2017
Loved this! But know that you will get way more than 25 dumplings. Not a problem in my house. Totally wonderful.
Tom B. April 20, 2016
Great dish but much too salty. Cut down the salt by about 2/3rd, especially in yogurt.
procrastibaker November 7, 2013
No wonton wrappers at my local grocery store, so I used fresh sheets of pasta, and the dumplings turned out beautifully. The kofta was a little paprika-heavy for my tastes, so I added about a teaspoon of cumin, and another .5 teaspoon of coriander, which rounded it out nicely. Loved how it tasted once it was all assembled, although bites of the dumpling on its own are quite bitter, so make sure you have a good kofta and yogurt to dumpling ratio. Next time I would probably use fresh mint, to brighten up the finished dish, or perhaps go with a 50-50 yogurt and sour cream mix, to set off the lovely, spicy taste of the lamb. The whole thing came together quite quickly, and with two people working together in the kitchen, could easily be a weeknight dinner. We both thought it was delicious, and will be adding it to the regular rotation. Thanks so much, Katie and Humaira!
Fancy A. October 3, 2013
This was absolutely delicious!!

Made this with beef instead of lamb since it was local-- and substituted fresh sheets of lasagna noodles for the dumplings (made about 6 large raviolos. Also added chopped mint into the yogurt sauce. Will definitely be remaking this over the winter, was almost like a delicious deconstructed lasagna without all the work!
Victoria August 21, 2013
I will be using labne for sure here!
hghilzai February 2, 2013
You can definitely make the meat sauce and the yogurt at least one or two days ahead of the time. As for the dumplings, you may stuff them and freeze or refrigerate until you are ready to boil. I suggest if you are making the dumplings more than one day ahead of time that you freeze it. I hope this helps. - Humaira (
hchambers86 January 24, 2013
Are there components of this that can be made ahead? I'd like to make it for a surprise birthday dinner but want to make sure that I have the timing right!
PaulaE January 12, 2013
I have made this dish at least 10 times now, and every single friend I've served it to has asked for the recipe. It's a real stand-out and a permanent part of my go-to repertoire. Thank you, Katie and Humaira. I've started visiting your wonderful blog for more Afghan ideas.
hghilzai January 12, 2013
You are very welcome and thank you for making our recipe - Humaira
hghilzai January 12, 2013
I want to thank all the fabulous Food52 cooks for trying our recipe and your wonderful comments - Humaira (
za'atar January 12, 2013
I've made this recipe 5 times since discovering it a month ago. So delicious! As easy as spaghetti with meat sauce, but with a new flavor profile that spices things up. Yum.
Nazmul H. December 9, 2012
The actual name of this Afghan dish is Mantu ( most commonly made with minced beef). The vegetable (leek) dumplings are called Aushak.
hghilzai January 12, 2013
You are right, Mantu usually has minced beef inside the dumpling and a yogurt sauce as a topping. The dish featured in this book has sautéed leeks with minced beef sauce & yogurt. Aushak is the correct name as noted in the book. I submitted this recipe from my blog
PaulaE May 16, 2012
This is a new family favorite. The only variation I've used, and it's amazing, is to substitute fresh mint for dried. I mince up a big handful of the fragrant herb and mix it into the yogurt with the garlic. This adds to the fresh, bold taste of the dish.
AllisonGG September 12, 2011
Just made these this weekend, and they were amazing! My 1-year old was thrilled with the dumplings, while my husband liked the lamb the best. Thanks for a great recipe.
mboerner August 23, 2011
Question: What is meant by "tomato sauce"?
hghilzai January 12, 2013
I used an organic canned tomato sauce which you can purchase at any grocery store. Tomato sauce is usually made with a puree of tomatoes with savory vegetables and other seasonings.
mboerner August 23, 2011
A problem: Whatr is meant by "tomato sauce"?
mboerner August 23, 2011
A problem: Whatr is meant by "tomato sauce"?