Table of Contents
If you asked anyone from The Middle East what their favorite food was, the answer would probably be warak al Annab or dolma. Dolma is a quintessential part of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It consists of grape leaves stuffed with meat, rice, and herbs.
This recipe is a vegetarian version, which is usually cooked during lent, right before Easter! The most famous popular version of this dish is when they are stuffed with rice and ground lamb. These dolmas are then usually served along with stuffed zucchini and lamb ribs.
Growing up, my dad would always carve the zucchini while my mom and I would roll the warak Al Annab. Making the dish is very time-consuming, and it takes about four to five hours to prepare the pot. This part is usually done a day ahead of time. Once the pot is ready, the cooking time is another three to four hours, depending on how big the pot is! We would never make a small pot since we would make them in large batches. My mom would stuff about forty zucchini and roll 200 grape leaves; I am not joking. I will post a recipe for the stuffed zucchini soon, but for now, enjoy this tasty dolma recipe!
Where to Get Grape Leaves?
I feel lucky to live in California. There is no shortage of grape leaves! Usually, by the end of May or early June, the grape leaves are still tiny and tender. We take a trip to a local farm and ask them to pick some fresh grape leaves; they are usually gracious about it. When I get home, I will stack them on top of each other, wrap them in saran wrap, put them in a Ziplock bag, and freeze them until needed. You may also be able to find grape leaves at an international grocery store or online.
Fresh vs. Jarred Grape Leaves
Most people prefer using fresh grape leaves, but if it isn’t the right season for grape leaves, or you can’t find them in a store near you, you can also use jarred grape leaves. New grape leaves are much better since they are softer and tangier. When using jars, I like to wash them with cold water and still blanched them in boiling water as I do for the fresh ones for a couple of minutes.
How to Prepare Grape Leaves?
Grape leaves are fairly easy to prepare. You can remove the small vein on top and cut them with scissors. Sometimes the grape leaves will also have a thick stem, but you should take it out if possible. The thick and stringy stem is thick and chewy and won’t taste good.
When wrapping the dolma, you should remember not to overstuff the leaves. If you put too much filling inside, it will burst, and the stuffing will spill out. You should also fold it gently to allow it to expand as it cooks. Once the dolma is finished cooking, let it cool and rest before serving.
There are plenty of dolma variations. You can make dolma with rice, various types of meat such as ground lamb, bell peppers, or vegetarian stuffing. Since many different countries make this dish, there are a few different versions. For instance, some people use rice while others use burglar. There are also variations of dolma where the grape leaves are substituted for cabbage.
How to Serve Dolma?
Dolma should be served at room temperature or chilled. After you are done cooking, let them sit for at least 30 minutes before plating them. You can squeeze some lemon juice over them and eat them as is. The dolma will be refreshing, tangy, and delicious. You can also serve them with a little extra pomegranate molasses or some yogurt sauce.
Prepare the grape leaves by bringing a pot of water to boil, drop the grape leaves in batches in hot water, submerge under water for 2 minutes, then use a mesh take out into deep coriander sitting in a bowl to strain the water. Repeat until you finish with all the grape leaves.
To make the stuffing wash the burglar in cold water and strain.
Add all the other ingredients, chopped tomatoes, onion, minced garlic, and chopped parsley, and add the tomato paste and the bell pepper paste. Add the spices, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper, followed by olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well.
When the grape leaves cool down to handle, take one leaf at a time and lay with the shiny part touching the board and the texture part facing up.
Fold the side over the filling and roll; keep tucking the left and right sides as you roll, and ensure they are tight but not too tight, leaving a place for the stuffing to expand as it cooks.
Repeat until you are done with leaves and stuffing.
To arrange the pot, start by laying a few grape leaves on the bottom of the pot, add the sliced potatoes, and add the pomegranate seeds. Start placing the grape leaves neatly, one layer at a time; add a small plate in the middle of the pot on top of the grape leaves to hold them down while cooking.
On the stovetop on medium-high heat, add one cup of water first to the grape leaves to the pot and bring to a boil.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of water with one tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, ¼ cup of olive oil, one tablespoon of dry mint, and ½ tablespoon of salt. Pour over the grape leaves and bring to boil on medium-high heat.
You could check by taking one grape leaf and tasting it! Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
|100 fresh grape leaves (or 2 jars of grape leaves)|
|2 cups burglar # 4 only washed with cold water|
|1 cup diced tomatoes|
|1 cup chopped onion|
|½ cup Italian parsley (chopped)|
|5 garlic cloves (minced)|
|1 tablespoon tomato paste|
|1 tablespoon bell pepper|
|¼ cup olive oil|
|½ cup fresh lemon juice|
|½ tablespoon cumin|
|½ tablespoon coriander|
|½ tablespoon salt|
|1 teaspoon black pepper|
|¼ cup fresh pomegranate seeds|
|4 small potatoes (peeled and sliced about ½ inch in width)|
For the stock:
|1 cup water (separate)|
|1 cup water (mix with one tablespoon pomegranate molasses ¼ cup olive oil ½ tablespoon salt, and one tablespoon dry mint)|
Have You Tried This Recipe?
If So, Mention Us @ranasrecipe
Or Use Hashtag #ranasrecipe
Let’s Start Cooking With Love!
Leave a Reply