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Manti from Golden Valley Restaurant

Last year we marked the hundred day countdown to Best of Phoenix by sharing our 100 Favorite Dishes with you. Now we're back - with the 2011 edition. Have a suggestion for a dish you'd like us to try? Leave it in the comments section or email laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com.

49: Manti from Golden Valley

It is said that sackfuls of manti, a type of dumpling, were taken across Central Asia to Anatolia by migrating Turks, and that Turkic and Mongol horsemen carried them frozen or dried because they could be quickly boiled over a campfire.

Sans campfire and freshly prepared, we ate ours at Golden Valley, the new restaurant near the intersection of 19th Avenue and Northern serving up Uzbek and Mediterranean cuisine, and understood how these gift-wrapped packages of goodness would make any journey delicious.

Given its legacy, there are several variations of manti. Ours were filled with tender, seasoned lamb, onions, herbs, and cumin seeds wrapped in dough, steamed, and topped with sprinkles of parsley.

To eat one like a pro, bite of a corner, then lift it up and let the juices drip into your spoon -- that's your first delicious taste of what's to come -- the rest is all fork and knife, and if you'd like, a bit of sour cream. Like a lightly-seasoned stew gift-wrapped in dough, the flavor is comforting, rustic, with the distinct aroma of cumin adding to its warm, earthy deliciousness.

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