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Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Dolmas, yaprak dolma, sarma, stuffed grape leaves ... call them what you will, I'd like to find an outstanding recipe for them, maybe something a little unusual. My friend, Sosi, and her sister, Sonia, are Armenian, and both are exceptional cooks. Sosi makes some great stuffed grape leaves. She's tutored me on some techniques but has yet to share her recipe for the stuffing. Sonia knows the recipe, but won't give it to me because it's her sister's creation. I think one of the reasons they won't give me the recipe is because they don't have one - by that I mean they just cook by eye, feel, smell - the only thing written down are the ingredients. Anyway, their stuffed grape leaves recipe is a "family secret." They'll share most anything else with me <sigh>

So, I want to make some dolmas that will make Sosi ask me for the recipe. It's a daunting task - I've tried a few but always came up short. I think Sosi has some secret herb or spice she uses ... some version of Bahrat (Baharat?) perhaps.

Can anyone help out with a proven recipe, even if just for the filling?
post #2 of 11

try this one:


grape leaves
500 g ground beef
1 cup of rice
1 chop onion
1 chop and pill tomato
baharat -
(if you can't find make it yourself : 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp coriander, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp clove, 1/2 tbsp nutmeg, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ).
parsley and fresh mint .

mix all together and put in the grape leaves, cook in a pot.

good luck :)

Amir Arie
Amir Arie
post #3 of 11
Yield 100
3/4 t allspice / 1/2 t cinnamon / 1/2 t nutmeg /1/4 t ground cloves
100 ((Kronos Brand Grape leaves I think the best)
2 pounds ground lamb
2 cups washed rice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 T chopped mint
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice not that bottled junk
salt and pepper to taste
mix all together except lemon juice
cook covered 20 minutes in a 2inch s.s steamtable pan
add lemon juice cook 10 minutes more
can be served hot or cold or wrap in 1/2 pita bread and dip in yogurt
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I was thinking to use aleppo peppers in the baharat, and I see you used paprika and cayenne in a proportion equal to a typical aleppo substitution, so maybe I was on the right track.

kind regards,
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
:lol: I already saved the recipe from your first post, but have not compared the two. I assume you made some corrections and that this is the correct recipe.

As for grape leaves, Sosi uses fresh leaves - by that I nean not jarred or prepared in any way. If I'm not mistaken, jarred leaves are packed in a brine solution - are the Kronos leaves packed that way?

Long grain rice?

Thanks, Ed ...
post #6 of 11
This is a strictly Kretan recipe with no meat. In Turkey they make fabulous ones with raisins and pine nuts but these from Greece are quite different and simple. I don't have a recipe with measurements, just ingredients. Go heavy on the mint, easy on the cumin.

What kind of grape leaves you use is very important. My Grandmother always picks hers fresh. She insists they must be "young leaves, tender, and small" to make a tender dolma.

- 2 medium grated onions
- 3 grated zucchinis
- 3 small crushed tomatoes deseeded and peeled
- 1 artichoke finely chopped
- 1/2 grated eggplant
- handful of chopped parsley
- handful of chopped mint
- salt/pepper
- olive oil (the best you have)
- few dashes of cumin
- few dashes of paprika
- rice

1. Zap the onions, zucchinis, artichokes, and eggplant in the food processer or grate by hand.
2. Add about 1/3 cup of oil to the mixture and the chopped herbs.
3. Add the rice - there should be about as much rice as there is grated vegetables
4. season to taste.
5. blanch the grape leaves - the ones out of a jar need a bit more to tenderize.
6. In the bottom of your pot place layers of potato slices (1/2 inch thickness). Coat liberally with olive oil and season.
7. As you roll the dolmas layer them on top of the potatoes.
8. After you've rolled all the dolmas place another layer of potatoes and season that as well.
9. Pour in water so that it comes halfway up the dolmas.
10. Place an oven proof plate on top of the dolmades to keep them from expanding too much or breaking.
11. Simmer on low for 45 minutes or so.

PS - The potatoes on the bottom are the real treat! They get all green from the grape leaves and soak up any excess water or salt from the rice.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Perhaps I can manage without measurements. Mostly I was looking for ingredients to get ideas about what Sosi may have been using in her recipe.

Fresh grape leaves are readily available here. By fresh I mean not jarred, but in the stores they may not be freshly picked. I can sometimes get grape leaves right off the vines. Would they be too fresh?

Very interesting combination of ingredients. I don't think I've come across any recipes using artichokes and eggplant. I'm sure you don't mean to include the entire aryichoke, just the hearts and bottoms, yes?

I tend to gravitate to the Italian Romanesco squashe instead of the more typical zucchini, at least in the usual cooking I do here. It's a firmer squash than a zuchini - do you think it'll work, or should I stick to the zucchini?

I've seen recipes that use cooked, par cooked, and uncooked rice. The way I'm reading your recipe is to use uncooked rice. Correct?

That's a fantastic idea and a great technique.

Now that does sound good.

Thank you so much for the ideas!
post #8 of 11
Shel ;
.Second recipe is corrected one, also I used Basmati rice., and yes Kronos leaves are packed in brine since I could not get fresh in FLORIDA all year round and I wanted them consistant all the time. Just drain and let soak in cold water about 2 hours. Also they are mostly all same size whereas fresh are not. KRONOS ALSO MAKES FINISHED DOLMAS AND THEY ARE NOT BAD.
post #9 of 11
With the artichoke I just use 1, heart and cleaned stem.

I am not familiar with the squash you're referring to. The reason I use zucchini is because of the high water content that keeps the dolmas moist, and for the sweetness of flavor. It's my main ingredient. If the squash you like is anything like that then go for it. There's nothing strict about the recipe - all veggies are welcome (except beets... oh and no celery... haha)

Uncooked rice - it cooks inside the dolma and absorbs the yummy greeness.

PS - don't be afraid to liberally use olive oil. In the stuffing, on the potatoes, and on top of the dish again before it starts simmering. There's no meat in these to render fat and you run the risk of having them taste a little boiled if you skimp on the olive oil.

You're soooo lucky to have access to fresh grape leaves - so jealous!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Oooo! Permission to use lotsa olive oil. I'm happy - love the stuff. How much do I like olive oil? Well, sometimes I'll just take a little drink right from the bottle.

Yeah, but I have to drive to the vineyards ... what a drag :lol:
post #11 of 11
I've read that Greeks sometimes, in some parts, drink a little cup of olive oil sometimes. I don't remember where I read that, but if I lived in that land of abundant olive oil, I'd do the same once in a while. :D I love it.

This is from a friend's experience: she visited Greece and said that "french fries" there are usually fried in olive oil, and that they are her absolute favorites.

I just realized, the owner of this site could tell me authoritatively about all this. :D
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