Dolma is a common dish in the Middle East and some other regions including the Balkans, Central Asia and Russia. It is made of grape or cabbage leaves that are rolled around a filling. The filling is usually made of rice and vegetables, or minced meat. Dolmas can be served both warm and cold.
A few times a year, I make dolmas with grape leaves. They are really something special and amazing, but a little more time consuming to make (although not very complicated).
Of course, you will need some grape leaves to make this dish. You can buy them in a jar or use them fresh, but don’t be too worried about preparing fresh leaves for dolmas. It’s quite easy; the only thing you have to do is to blanch them, which will take you just a few minutes.
Wash them and trim the stems. Then bring water to boil, place leaves in the pot and cook them for a few minutes. Drain them and then leave them to cool. If you decide to make dolmas with fresh leaves, make sure that you pick them from an unsprayed vineyard. In addition, you must only pick young leaves otherwise they will be a bit chewy.
Traditionally, dolmas are made with rice, but I wanted to add a little twist so I used quinoa instead.
My version is vegetarian – actually vegan – but fill free to add meat if you wish. You can play with almost any vegetable, rice or meat you like to make a filling – it’s almost impossible to make it wrong. The only thing you have to be careful with is ensuring that you don’t overstuff the leaves with too much filling. To help facilitate the process, here is a little photo collage on how to roll them together.
- 20 blanched vine leaves
- 1 onion
- 1 cup of shredded cabbage
- 1 tbs of chopped fresh mint
- 1.4 teaspoon allspice
- 1.2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups of water
- In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions. When translucent add shredded cabbage. Cook until tender than add mint, allspice, cinnamon, salt and quinoa. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes. Cool down
- Take one grape leaf and place it on the clean and flat surface. Place a teaspoon of filling in the bottom of the leaf. Fold the sides inwards and then roll the leaf.
- Repeat until you run out of the mixture and leafs.
- Spread dolmas tightly side by side in pot. Place a plate on top to prevent them from moving while cooking.
- Cover with water and juice of one lemon and bring to boil.
- Cook on the light heat for about 45 to 60 minutes until water is absorbed. Be careful not to burn them.
- Place on the serving dish and eat hot or cooled.
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