Ashak – Leek-Filled Dumplings with Meat Sauce

Sorry for the long hiatus; I’ve been planning to post for awhile now, but haven’t gotten around to it. Anyways, here’s a nice Tajik recipe, because that’s all I have time to post for now. Keep in mind I don’t measure anything, so any measurements are approximate. You could probably also make this vegetarian with crumbled tofu or extra split peas.

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Ashak – Leek-Filled Dumplings with Meat Sauce

60-70 round or square dumpling wrappers (I used dim sum wrappers) – you can make your own if you REALLY want to.

1 large leek
1 tsp salt
¼ – ½ tsp red pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 – 2 medium onions, finely chopped
300 gram minced beef or lamb

½ cup yellow split peas, washed and soaked for a bit
½ – 1 cup tomato sauce
salt and black pepper

16 oz plain yogurt (room temperature)
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp salt

dried mint, to serve

Chop the leek, and wash and drain in a colander, pressing out as much water as possible. Place the leeks in a mixing bowl, and add salt and red pepper, mixing well. Mix in the 1 tsp oil. Heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a pan and fry the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown. Add the meat and fry until browned. Drain the split peas and add them too, along with the tomato sauce and some hot water, just enough to cover the meat and beans. Bring to a boil and add salt and pepper to taste (don’t add too much salt as the sauce will thin out later and be more concentrated), lower the heat, cover, and simmer about half an hour, or until the peas are cooked. Remove the cover and allow to simmer until the sauce boils down to desired thickness, and adjust the seasonings. While the meat sauce is cooking, stuff the dumplings: lay out a few wrappers and place 1-1½ tsp of the leek mixture in the centers of each. With your finger, run some water along the edges of each wrapper and seal with a second wrapper, pressing edges together firmly. Set the dumplings aside as you finish them (try to work quickly so they don’t dry out). Bring a big pot of water to boil, add 1 tsp salt and a bit of vinegar, and boil the dumplings for 7-10 minutes. You may have to boil them in two batches. Gently push them back under the water with a spoon when they come up. Mix the yogurt, garlic, and salt. Swirl a bit of the yogurt mixture over the serving plate, or on individual plates. When the dumplings are done, remove them gently with a slotted spoon and try to let as much water run off as you can. Place on the serving plate, over the yogurt. Top with the meat sauce and more yogurt, and sprinkle liberally with the dried mint. Noosh-e jan!

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