This is a typical Lebanese dish that my grandmother, who’s from Beirut, makes for me whenever I go home to Michigan to visit. I never see it at Middle Eastern restaurants, so it’s a treat to have, as it takes some time (and lots of love) to execute. To save time, you may substitute homemade dough with wonton wrappers. However, this recipe will feature dough from scratch, as nothing can really compare to the real thing, especially with the secret ingredient: mahlab (ground cherry pits). You can use either beef or lamb for the filling, depending on your preference. I always choose lamb! You can also either fry or bake the dumplings. I prefer baking. —OhMyGolly
Test Kitchen Notes
The flavor of these Lebanese dumplings is wonderfully comforting and familiar, and they’re very easy to put together. The dumplings themselves are bright and brash, and the yogurt and mint sauce provides a perfect, mellow counterpoint, giving the dish depth and nuance. If you'd like to save some time and skip the from-scratch dough, try the genius shortcut of store-bought wonton wrappers. Altogether, this is a satisfying example of both how beautifully ingredients can complement one another, and why dumplings are a universally beloved food. —theediblecomplex
6 to 8
mahlab (ground cherry pits)
Lamb Filling & Yogurt-Mint Sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons
clarified butter, plus more for the yogurt sauce
large onion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 pounds
ground lamb or beef
1/2 to 1 teaspoons
salt (to taste)
Oil, for baking or frying (I recommend olive oil for baking or corn oil for frying.)
Stir together all the dry ingredients and then add enough water (approximately 1 cup) to form the dough.
Stir and then knead until dough is smooth. Cover with a towel and set aside to rest, approximately 30 minutes. During the half hour that the dough is resting, cook the meat mixture.
Lamb Filling & Yogurt-Mint Sauce
Lightly brown the pine nuts in clarified butter. Remove pine nuts from the pan (leaving the excess butter behind), then place them into a small bowl and set aside.
Sauté the diced onion in the remaining butter that you browned the pine nuts in. Do not let the onions brown. Add the lamb (or beef) and stir until browned, chopping the meat into small pieces as you brown it.
Add salt, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon to taste. Mix well. Drain the meat in a bowl lined with a paper towel if necessary. Add the pine nuts, taste for seasoning, and let cool.
To form the dumplings: Roll out the rested dough on a very lightly floured board and cut into 2-inch round circles (I used a small espresso cup). Flatten each circle a little with your fingers, then fill the centers with a small spoonful of the meat/pine nut mixture. Fold the circle of dough over and pinch the edges to seal. Join the corners to form the shape of a hat.
Fry or bake in oven. To fry: Place the dumplings in hot corn oil for a few minutes until lightly browned and then drain them on paper towel. To bake: Brush them with olive oil and bake in a 400° F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool. You can also freeze them before frying or baking.
To make the yogurt sauce: Heat approximately 2 to 3 cups plain Greek yogurt in a pan with 1 cup of water and bring to a slight boil. Drop dumplings in and simmer on medium-low heat. Fry the smashed cloves of garlic in a little bit of clarified butter, add the dried mint, and stir well. Add to the hot yogurt sauce/dumplings and cook for 2 more minutes.