Talk about Dolma and you most likely will imagine those little parcels of rolled vine leaves stuffed with rice. However the word 'dolma' actually just means 'stuffed thing', which can be seen in its many shapes, sizes, and vegetables across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cyprus, Greece, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon you'll find a whole range of vegetables from stuffed tomatoes, stuffed eggplants, stuffed cabbage, stuffed zucchini, and stuffed onions.
For our Dolma, we're going down the traditional route, taking you through the basic steps to make the vine leaf variety of Dolma from scratch. It's a recipe that doesn't take too kindly to cut corners -one to be made with care and time. However, if you do, we ensure you'll be rewarded -both in its simple flavor and in the enjoyment your raki table will get from these little treats. We guarantee your guests will notice the difference from the shop-bought variety.
Vine leaves- or grape leaves can be found in packed in brine in jars in Middle Eastern, Greek or Turkish markets and food stores.
In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add onions and garlic and sweat until tender. Add in the mushrooms and sauté until browned. Add the rice and pour over enough hot water so it's fully submerged. Cover with a lid and simmer over low heat until the rice is half cooked -this should take around 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse the grape leaves in warm water and set in a colander to drain. Taking care not to rip the delicate leaves. Trim off the stems.
When the rice is ready, mix in the other ingredients and allow it to cool, enough so you can handle it with your bare hands.
Now- time to get folding! Take a grape leaf and place it smooth side down on a chopping board. Depending on the size of your leave place between 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon of the rice mix at the bottom of the leaf. Fold in the sides and then roll the leaf from bottom to top.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Place a steaming rack in a large pot and arrange the dolmas on the steamer. It's okay to stack them. Place enough water at the bottom of the pot to almost reach the bottom layer of dolmas. Cover and simmer over low heat for 35-45 minutes, or until rice is totally cooked and remove.
When you're ready to serve, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sumac or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
To make some extra special dolmas for your raki table, how about adding some ground beef or lamb to your rice mix. Like the rice, you just need to cook it lightly before you wrap them up, as the steam will do the rest. For another great addition, try chopped and sautéed zucchini or eggplant, or just some plain chopped tomatoes.
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