Sep 02

Memories of Mantu

by in Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, published, Travelogue

Mantu is like a samosa, not fried but steam boiled. I was first introduced to it while roaming in the bazaar of Chitral where I came across a boy selling mantu on the road side. Locals in singles and groups were sitting around, enjoying mantu and a good gathering.

The first Mantu, which i ate in Chitral, was not freshly made. However, on my second try, I discovered fresh and delicious Mantu in a small restaurant in Gilgit Bazar, right behind PTDC Motel. This is the only famous mantu shop in the city, with a chef that hails from Kashgar (southern China). It is not a very fancy place: there is a kitchen by the entrance, and a few tables on which to dine.

Mantu dumplings consist of a spiced mixture of minced lamb or beef, couched alongside onions and spices wrapped in dough that is then steamed in a special circular steel utensil. It is steamed by placing number of mantus in a row on a circular tray with holes which is placed in the utensil a little above from boiling water and is then covered. Mantu can be served according to your appetite. The taste can be enhanced by adding black pepper, vinegar and chili sauce. Once can easily eat a dozen of mantu in one sitting.

During ancient times, mantu was considered to be the food for travelers along Silk Route: they carried dried mantu with them and boiled it to eat at stopovers. Mantu is widely eaten in Asia, especially in Afghanistan, China and Turkey, though with some variations.

People in northern Pakistan, who are said to have received the dish from southern China, are fond ofeating it in small-sized mantu- but i also came across some Chinese engineers while traveling on the Karakoram highway who were seating a much larger version of mantu. Mantu-making is now a family activity in most parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, where a small utensil can be purchased from Gilgit bazaar and mantu can be prepared at home.

(The article was published in Herald by dawn, June 2012 travel edition)


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9 Responses to “Memories of Mantu”

  1. From Ubi Ahmed:

    ahh dumplings, i eat them with soja sauce and vinegar! so yummy and healthy! :)

    Posted on 02. Sep, 2012 at 10:05 am #
  2. From KNizam:

    good write up. i did eat lots of balti food last week. will write about it later :)

    Posted on 02. Sep, 2012 at 10:37 am #
  3. From Umer:

    what was the filling made of ? chicken, veg, mince ???

    Posted on 01. Oct, 2012 at 8:05 am #
    • From danialshah:

      @Umer: it was keema. Mince :)

      Posted on 03. Oct, 2012 at 5:27 am #
  4. From Zainab Hashimi:

    My mom makes the best mantu ever! :)
    The Afghan version of it is made of minced beef, sheep fat and onions. and it takes pretty long time to make the fillings and marinate it. Mom always makes it big, it doesnt fit in my mouth, seems like she makes it for Dad only. lol

    Posted on 08. Jun, 2013 at 8:36 pm #
  5. From temoor:

    Danial Bhai, I had about 3 Mantus last week in Khaplu, I guess they were the slightly larger versions;

    Posted on 12. Jul, 2013 at 5:59 pm #
    • From danialshah:

      Temor, how was it? do you have picture of it by any chance?

      Posted on 13. Jul, 2013 at 9:43 pm #
      • From temoor:

        yeah I took a picture of them and i also wrote about it in my blog!

        Posted on 14. Jul, 2013 at 8:56 pm #
  6. From Raja MK (Haider):

    It is unusual and a long story how I got there in Gilgit 7 years ago. I went to see my uncle in Gilgit FCNA who was highly ranked officer in Pakistani Army and i am grateful to him that he offered me to stay with him for a long period of time and that was the most adventurous and my most lovely 2 years in Gilgit. The Important thing is that the man in the pictures above has impressed me with his magical skills of mantu making. It has been over 7 years since i have been to this place but there none of day month has passed when I didn’t not miss this man’s Restaurants Mantus. Even though i had to face Stomach problem but it was still my favourite restaurant for lunch every once a week for 2 years. Thanks for the Host of this BLOG who took these pictures. I hope I visit Pakistan again in future soon and go to this restaurant again.

    Posted on 03. Jan, 2015 at 2:26 am #

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