Archive for July, 2012

Turkish ravioli – Manti

I love, love, love manti! It’s like a more delicious version of ravioli. I found it’s extremely difficult to find in Sydney (and impossible in Eastern Europe) so I decided to make my own from scratch. Needless to say I am not the best chef and my kitchen wasn’t very well equipped where I decided to cook it, but it still turned out pretty delicious!


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon water, or as needed
  • 2 onions, peeled
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt


  1. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and water, mixing well with your hands. Add more water, if needed, to form a soft dough. Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Shred the onions and place them in a colander or sieve set over a bowl; drain the juice and discard. Combine the onion, ground beef, salt, and pepper; mix the meat well with a spoon until mashed.
  3. Divide the dough into two portions and lightly flour a work surface. Keep one piece of dough covered while you roll out the second portion into a rectangle, rolling the dough as thin as you can. Cut the rectangle into 2-inch squares with a knife or pastry wheel.
  4. Place about 2 teaspoons of the meat filling in the center of each square. Seal the dumplings by gathering the edges of the dough and pinching them together at the top to form a bundle. Transfer the finished manti to a floured plate, and sprinkle more flour over the manti to prevent sticking. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
  5. Heat the oil and red pepper flakes in a small skillet over low heat just until the pepper flakes have started to color the oil; don’t let them burn. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Stir the minced garlic into the yogurt and set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook the manti until the filling is no longer pink, and the dough is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well. Divide the manti among four plates. Spoon the yogurt sauce over the manti and drizzle each serving with the hot pepper oil.

I learned how to make this yogurt soup when I was in Turkey. It’s a hot soup, so yes, you do cook the yogurt. When I first heard this I balked and was a bit wary about trying it (I’m not a fan of yogurt at the best of times), but the soup was so delicious that I just couldn’t get enough of it. Normally it’s only a first course, but I can eat it as an entire meal I eat so much. I believe it’s sort of their version of chicken soup if you get sick. Even if you are wary about it or don’t like yogurt, I highly recommend giving it a go. I obtained this recipe from Almost Turkish so can’t take any credit for it. She has a ton of amazing recipe’s so I recommend taking a look at her blog! My input is in pink.

1/4 cup rice
5 cups of water (if you wish you can use half chicken stock, half water) If I can’t find chicken stock I use chicken stock cubes. I usually put in 3 or 4 (a bit excessive maybe, but I find it delicious).
2 cups of plain yogurt
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dried mint or tarragon
1 tsp salt

-Boil rice in 5 cups of water with salt until (very) soft.
-In a bowl, beat the egg and flour well, and then add yogurt and mix. With 1-2 tbsp water lighten up this mixture.
-Put the yogurt mix in a pot and start cooking on very low. It’s important that you start with low heat, otherwise yogurt would curdle. Give yogurt some time to get used to heat. Cook on low heat for approximately 15 minutes and keep stirring.
-Slowly pour in rice along with water into the soup. Keep stirring. First let it boil on medium and then turn it down and cook for another 10 minutes.
-Heat butter in a pan. Once it sizzles, add mint flakes and stir for 20-30 seconds (don’t let it burn). Then, pour it into soup.

The Long Road to Kiev

The trip to Kiev was a long one. I decided to leave Belarus early rather than go to Pripatsky National Park because my wisdom tooth has decided to come through and it was causing me a fair amount of pain. Luckily, I found a solution for the pain which all you parents should try. Just numb it with alcohol. Seriously. Granted I was drinking my alcohol so I couldn’t feel pain, but I’m sure if you just put a dab on the tooth the baby will be fine… :S Maybe not? Okay.

The point is, I left early to go back to Vilnius and see a dentist since I trust their dentists more than the one’s in Belarus (they speak English) and it was super cheap. Good news is, there is enough room for the tooth to grow in without causing damage so I can just get it taken out when I get back to Australia. The bad news is that the dentist basically told me in a very professional and polite way to go buy some numbing gel and stop being such a baby. The tooth is still coming through and every time another part of the tooth decides to erupt through the gums it causes me considerable pain. More reason to drink!

 The downside of heading to the dentist in Vilnius was that I had to go the long way to get to Kiev since I couldn’t re-enter Belarus to go via Minsk. It was not cheap and it was no easy feat. There is one train per day that goes from Vilnius to Warsaw, Poland and it arrives 30 minutes after the last train to L’viv or Kiev leaves. Talk about annoying. So I booked myself a hostel for the night and made the best of the situation. 1 full day on a train and then 2 overnight trains really takes a lot out of you, especially considering the crappy timing of the train to L’viv, Ukraine. I managed to get to sleep around midnight on the overnight train as I had to switch trains (which meant waiting for a little bit in Krakow) so I couldn’t take a sleeping pill to pass out once I left Warsaw. I was very rudely interrupted by EU Polish border patrol at some ungodly hour like 2:30 or 3:00am to check my passport which meant another 45 minutes before I got to sleep again. About 4:30 in the morning I was awoken by Ukrainian border patrol for the same process. Equally as annoying and even more annoyed when I was woken up by the carriage steward and realised that there was a time change and I actually lost an hour which meant even less sleep.

Needless to say, by the time I got off that train I felt the need for a shower (wasn’t going to happen), food (took an hour to find a place that was open at 6 in the morning and serving food), and sleep (plan to sleep in a park fell through as the weather was crappy). It was a very long day as my train to Kiev didn’t leave until about 9 in the evening. I basically wandered around aimlessly in an attempt to keep myself awake and didn’t take much in. I was also painfully desperate for a Red Bull to keep me awake (note to everyone, never ever start drinking Red Bull) but couldn’t find one anywhere so became so desperate I ordered a coffee. I hate coffee. I hate the taste and I hate the smell but at this point I was willing to try anything. Sure enough, it was so disgusting that I couldn’t even drink half of it.

I wandered around some more at this point taking pictures of random statues, soviet cars and buildings that I liked while wandering back to the train station. Passing close to the Euro Cup 2012 fanzone I noticed a café that had Red Bull. Salvation at last! I went in, ordered a Red Bull  and it was like the nectar of the gods. I decided I should probably order some food as well as all I had was bread, sausage and cheese (and I really hate sausage, but it’s a great train travel food). I attempted to order Ukrainian Borsch, of which they were out, then mushroom cream soup (which they do very well) of which they were out and finally ordered the only other soup on the menu which was simply labelled as “Soup”. Okay, I’ll take it. Oh my goodness was it amazing! I almost ordered another bowl. I asked the waiter what it was called and he looked at me like a crazy person (I’ve been getting a lot of those looks on this trip) and told me it was called “soup”. Not very helpful.

I made it alive to my train and was delighted when I discovered that I had the entire compartment in my carriage to myself. I could take a sleeping pill and pass out without any awkwardness between other women in the carriage! Alas, I obviously did something to tick off Mother Road for she had other plans in store for me. 3 men came into my women’s only compartment to put something in there because the train steward said they could as the compartment was almost empty and it was a fairly large and oddly shaped item. One of the men who was apparently on the train to another town on the way to Kiev took a liking to me and paid the steward 500 Hrvatny to let him stay in the cabin with me. I nearly started crying, all I wanted to do was sleep. So I went out to attempt to speak to the steward who either couldn’t or wouldn’t speak English with me. Probably the former, but I still tried indicating either the man or myself must be moved. He got the gist but refused to move me. Not cool. I forced myself to stay awake until 1 in the morning when this guy got off his stop. It actually took me moving all my bags onto the seat next to me when he went out for a smoke to move to the other side of the compartment.

The train got into Kiev around 9 or 10 in the morning, but I was still dead tired from not being able to sleep as much as I needed to. I had to force myself to find my hostel and stay awake for the day to avoid not sleeping that night. It took ages to find the metro, but once I found it it was easy enough to navigate, especially since everything now has English translations thanks to Ukraine co-hosting the Euro Cup this year.

Incidentally I would not recommend staying at the hostel that I stayed at unless you don’t want to drink or party. It’s pretty good for people looking for a quiet time in Kiev (who does that?). The entire reason I chose it was because it was the cheapest possible option due to the Euro Cup at $35 per night! Some beds in dorm rooms in hostels were going for as much as $220 so I got off pretty easy. The hostel I was at only had one shower (for up to 18 people), one toilet and they didn’t allow drinking in the hostel at all. Talk about annoying for someone like me who enjoys their wine at the end of the day before bed. I spent the day pretty much just hanging out and wandering the are looking for a restaurant to eat at. There wasn’t any games on that first day so I just relaxed in the area.

Conclusion? Speak Russian so you can pay off the compartment steward if need be and don’t take too many long distance trains in a row.

What I’m reading now: Dracula by Bram Stoker

What I’m listening to now: Metals by Feist