Vegetarian Dolma

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Dolma is a Turkish word meaning filled/stuffed. It is a popular Greek and middle eastern dish. Each Middle Eastern cuisine has its own variation of dolma. Iranians use rice, minced lamb and dried fruit and Egyptian dolma are stuffed with rice, tomato sauce and aubergine. This recipe is my vegetarian interpretation of what my family make back home in Iran.

We have a vine in our garden which produces lots of leaves in the summer.  I use the leaves to make dolma, which is one of my favourite dishes and every time I cook dolma, it brings back great memories from home. When my family make dolma, they use lamb and as I don’t eat very much meat, I’ve created a vegetarian dolma that is just as delicious and in my view much healthier. We’re coming to the end of the summer, but our vine still has a lot of green leaves and I’m intending to make some more to have and to freeze. Vine leaves can also be bought from Asian supermarkets or online, pickled in brine.

Dolma is a versatile dish which can be eaten hot or as cold snacks. If you manage to make this recipe, I would love to hear your views.   



LETS START PREPARING

This recipe makes 12 Dolma
For the recipe you would need 36 large vine leaves - allow 3 large leaves for each wrap. Allow another 10 extra leaves in case you need them to reinforce some of the parcels or to fill gaps in the pot. Each dolma parcel is quite large and satisfying.

VEGETARIAN DOLMA INGREDIENTS

200g (7 oz) basmati rice, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
100g (4.6 oz) lentils soaked in water overnight or at least for 5 hours
1 large onion chopped to small pieces
50g (1.8 oz) dried barberries washed and rinsed
2 desert spoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 desert spoon of butter
50g (1.8 oz) mixed fresh herbs - oregano, rosemary, parsley (or mixture of your favourite herbs)
1/2 tsp of Salt
1/2 tsp of each of the following spices, cinnamon, turmeric, chilli powder
400 ml water
100ml cider vinegar
150g (5.3 oz) caster sugar

Left:Cooked lentils.  Right: Soaked rice, ready for cooking

Left:Cooked lentils.  Right: Soaked rice, ready for cooking

Cook the soaked lentils for 5 minutes. Soaked lentils cook much quicker - make sure they are cooked but not over-cooked, otherwise they would get mushy. Drain and put in a large bowl.

Drain the water from the soaked rice, rinse several times until the water becomes clear. Put the rice in a pot, cover with water, plus one inch extra. Bring to boil and cook for about 4-5 minutes on a low heat. Being soaked before, 4-5 minutes should be plenty time. The rice will cook further when in the vine parcels. Drain the excess water from the rice and add this to the cooked lentils. 

Left: Chopped onions. Middle: Spices, chilli, turmeric, and cinnamon. Right: dried barberries

Left: Chopped onions. Middle: Spices, chilli, turmeric, and cinnamon. Right: dried barberries

Fried onion, spices and dried barberries

Fried onion, spices and dried barberries

Melt the butter in a pan, add one desert spoon of the olive oil to the pan and fry the chopped onion. Stir for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Turn the heat down, add the spices and stir for a minute to allow the aroma of the spices come through. Add the washed barberries and stir for another minute, so that they are also covered with the spices. Remove from the heat and put aside. If the spices stick to the bottom of the pan, add a tea spoon of water to loosen.

Rosemary,  Parsley and oregano, before chopping

Rosemary,  Parsley and oregano, before chopping

Chop the herbs finely or blast in a mixer.

Rice, lentil, herbs and spices ready to be used for stuffing

Rice, lentil, herbs and spices ready to be used for stuffing

Add the onion mixture and the herbs to the rice and lentil mixture you prepared earlier. Add the remaining olive oil, a heaped desert spoon of sugar, 1 desert spoon of vinegar and 2 desert spoons of water to the rice mixture and stir again.

Make a syrup by placing the remaining vinegar, sugar and water in a pan. Bring this to boil and as soon as all the sugar is melted, remove from the heat. Put this aside.

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Place 3 vine leaves on a plate, overlapping them to form a centre. Place one heaped desert spoon of the rice mixture in the centre of the vine leaves and wrap to a little parcel. Place this at the bottom of the pan and repeat the process until all the rice and vine leaves are used up. You should have made 12 dolma. Make sure you pack the dolma tightly in the pan to avoid them opening up when cooking. If there is any liquid left at the bottom of the bowl add it to the syrup you've already prepared.

Pour 3/4 of the sugar and vinegar syrup over the dolma parcels in the pan. Place over a moderate heat until it comes to boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer slowly. Keep watching it and add some of the remaining syrup if necessary. Keep the top of the pan tight to avoid steam from the pan escaping and keep the vine leaves moist. Never allow it to get dry.

Cook for 1 hour on a low heat. If you run out of liquid just top up the dolma parcels with water. After an hour of cooking the leaves should be a dark green colour, the mixture inside the dolma parcels should be cooked and moist and all the liquid should have been soaked up by the vine parcels. You're ready to serve.

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Serve with roasted vegetables or chicken kebabs, it also goes well salmon.

ENJOY...


RECIPE WITHOUT PHOTOS


This recipe makes 12 Dolma
For the recipe you would need 36 large vine leaves - allow 3 large leaves for each wrap. Allow another 10 extra leaves in case you need them to reinforce some of the parcels or to fill gaps in the pot. Each dolma parcel is quite large and satisfying.

VEGETARIAN DOLMA INGREDIENTS

200g (7 oz) basmati rice, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
100g (4.6 oz) lentils soaked in water overnight or at least for 5 hours
1 large onion chopped to small pieces
50g (1.8 oz) dried barberries washed and rinsed
2 desert spoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 desert spoon of butter
50g (1.8 oz) mixed fresh herbs - oregano, rosemary, parsley (or mixture of your favourite herbs)
1/2 tsp of Salt
1/2 tsp of each of the following spices, cinnamon, turmeric, chilli powder
400 ml water
100ml cider vinegar
150g (5.3 oz) caster sugar

Cook the soaked lentils for 5 minutes. Soaked lentils cook much quicker - make sure they are cooked but not over-cooked, otherwise they would get mushy. Drain and put in a large bowl.

Drain the water from the soaked rice, rinse several times until the water becomes clear. Put the rice in a pot, cover with water, plus one inch extra. Bring to boil and cook for about 4-5 minutes on a low heat. Being soaked before, 4-5 minutes should be plenty time. The rice will cook further when in the vine parcels. Drain the excess water from the rice and add this to the cooked lentils. 

Melt the butter in a pan, add one desert spoon of the olive oil to the pan and fry the chopped onion. Stir for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Turn the heat down, add the spices and stir for a minute to allow the aroma of the spices come through. Add the washed barberries and stir for another minute, so that they are also covered with the spices. Remove from the heat and put aside. If the spices stick to the bottom of the pan, add a tea spoon of water to loosen.

Chop the herbs finely or blast in a mixer.

Add the onion mixture and the herbs to the rice and lentil mixture you prepared earlier. Add the remaining olive oil, a heaped desert spoon of sugar, 1 desert spoon of vinegar and 2 desert spoons of water to the rice mixture and stir again.

Make a syrup by placing the remaining vinegar, sugar and water in a pan. Bring this to boil and as soon as all the sugar is melted, remove from the heat. Put this aside.

Place 3 vine leaves on a plate, overlapping them to form a centre. Place one heaped desert spoon of the rice mixture in the centre of the vine leaves and wrap to a little parcel. Place this at the bottom of the pan and repeat the process until all the rice and vine leaves are used up. You should have made 12 dolma. Make sure you pack the dolma tightly in the pan to avoid them opening up when cooking. If there is any liquid left at the bottom of the bowl add it to the syrup you've already prepared.

Pour 3/4 of the sugar and vinegar syrup over the dolma parcels in the pan. Place over a moderate heat until it comes to boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer slowly. Keep watching it and add some of the remaining syrup if necessary. Keep the top of the pan tight to avoid steam from the pan escaping and keep the vine leaves moist. Never allow it to get dry.

Cook for 1 hour on a low heat. If you run out of liquid just top up the dolma parcels with water. After an hour of cooking the leaves should be a dark green colour, the mixture inside the dolma parcels should be cooked and moist and all the liquid should have been soaked up by the vine parcels. You're ready to serve.

Serve with roasted vegetables or chicken kebabs, it also goes well salmon.


SOME USEFUL INFORMATION

Find out more about dried barberries and where to buy them

Vine leaves can also be bought from Asian supermarkets or online, pickled in brine.