First and foremost: how do you like the new look of this blog, ladies and gents? I'm still in the process of tweaking, so don't be surprised if things change. Also, I have to apologize for being M.I.A. these last few months. I have been focusing on school, on my senior thesis specifically, so I haven't had much time for cooking or blogging. But don't fret, readers, I'm back!
I wanted to share the process of making dolma, stuffed grape leaves. Many different cuisines feature these delicious little bites of goodness. This version is the way our family makes it, stuffed with a mixture of rice, ground beef, and tons of parsley. I have tasted other dolmas with more rice or more meat, but I think this version is a nice balance of flavors and textures. I'm sorry to tell you though, I don't have an exact recipe. I asked my mom for the amounts of each ingredient of our filling, and she laughed saying, "How should I know? We made that ages ago!" Folks, put your own twist on this. I'd like to try this with a filling that included feta cheese, for example--doesn't that sound good? If you've made dolma before, let me know what kind of filling you like to use.
These are the grape leaves, rinsed. You can find them jarred in brine.
As filling we used a mixture of: cooked rice, cooked ground beef, fried onions, plums, dried barberries, and parsley.
To create the dolma, pick the stem off the grape leaf and plop a spoonful of the filling in the middle of the leaf.
Roll it up like a burrito, y'all! Tuck in the bottom, then the sides, and then roll it up.
The finished product--doesn't it look good?
You know you want one...
Place some oil in the bottom of a big pot, and then lay some (unstuffed) grape leaves down flat. Then you can fill the pot with your dolma.
Keep piling dolma into the pot, until all your grape leaves are stuffed. This photo is of our first layer (we ended up having four or five total).
Once the dolma are all piled up in the pot, pour your liquid over them. We used a mixture my mom calls sweet and sour sauce: water, sugar, lemon juice, and vinegar. If you aren't interested in such a flavorful sauce, I bet chicken, beef, or vegetable stock would be flavorful without being too strong. After pouring several cups worth of liquid over the dolma, let them cook over low heat for hours. As with most Iranian dishes, the longer you cook, the more delicious it gets. I think ours cooked for two-three hours. The dolma may expand a little, depending on your filling, but they should hold up just fine. Try this out and enjoy!