Stuffed vine leaves

Stuffed vine leaves

Zeytinyağli yaprak sarması

By
From
Eat Istanbul
Serves
6
Photographer
David Loftus

There are so many variations on the theme of dolma, or stuffed vine leaves. This classic version is known as yalancı (‘imitation’) dolma because the stuffing contains rice, currants and pine nuts but no meat. They’re the long, thin ones most often found in restaurants as a starter and they are always eaten cold. They’re perfect picnic food and even the tinned version is bearable as a quick snack. You can also stuff fresh or brined vine leaves with bulgur or meat. Nowadays, you can even buy plastic dolma makers for a few Lira in the markets – they’re a bit like oversized cigarette rolling machines! Most Turkish cooks also use special earthenware lids so that they can hold the dolma down as they simmer, to stop them unrolling. In Turkey, they also sometimes use short-grain rice and you can even try using Arborio rice if you want.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons currants
2 medium onions, peeled
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon dried mint
180g long-grain white rice, washed
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
1/2 tablespoon turkish red pepper paste
2 tablespoons pine nuts
36 fresh or brined vine leaves, well rinsed in cold water, plus extra for lining the pot
1 lemon, juiced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
olive oil, for drizzling

Method

  1. Put the currants in a small bowl, cover with warm water and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Use a box grater to coarsely grate the onions into a bowl.
  3. Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onions, cinnamon, allspice and dried mint for 5–7 minutes or until softened. Add the rice, tomato purée and red pepper paste and continue to cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and leave to cool for 5–10 minutes. Now add the pine nuts and drained currants and mix well.
  4. Cut any stems off the vine leaves. Lay each leaf, vein side up, on a flat surface and place a heaped teaspoon of stuffing along the centre from side to side. Fold the sides of the leaf over the stuffing, then roll it tightly into a long cigar-shaped package. Repeat the process with the remaining vine leaves.
  5. Line a large saucepan with the extra vine leaves to stop the dolma from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Place the dolma on top of the vine leaves in a circle like a wheel, going from the centre outwards and packing in 2 or more layers if necessary. Add enough water to just cover them, pour the lemon juice in and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Place a heatproof plate on top, weighted down to keep the dolma submerged. Cover with a lid and simmer over low heat for 45–60 minutes until the dolma are cooked through and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Remove from the heat and leave the dolma to cool thoroughly before removing the weighted plate. Carefully transfer them with tongs to a serving plate and serve cold, drizzled with a little extra olive oil.
Tags:
Istanbul
Turkey
Turkish food
Middle Eastern
Andy Harris
David Loftus
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