APPETIZERS AND SNACKS:
Stuffed Grape Leaves
(Dolma or Mahshee)
This is a very popular dish. You
will find it in many Middle-Eastern, Greek, and Armenian restaurants.
You can can also stuff zucchini, cabbage leaves, eggplant, or
bell peppers. This is not a difficult dish to make, but it does
take time to roll each individual dolma. Plan on spending a couple
of hours to prepare the dish the first time. You will get better
2 cups rice, soaked in water and covered for about 30 minutes,
1 cup extra lean ground lamb (or beef)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Middle Eastern spice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large skinned onions. Lay on side and slice lengthwise from
one side to the center (halfway through the onion)
1 16-oz. jar preserved grape leaves or equal amount of fresh
1/2 cup lemon juice (or to taste), or 1 tablespoon of Tamarind
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Combine rice, lamb (or beef), salt, spice, pepper, raisins
(optional), garlic, half the tomato sauce, and 1 tablespoon vegetable
oil. Mix by hand well, set aside.
In 2-quart pan, boil enough water to cover the onions.
Put onions in boiling water and let cook for 10 minutes.
Remove onions from boiling water, cool with cold running water.
If you are using preserved grape leaves, go to next step. If
you are using fresh grape leaves, at this time submerge them
in the hot onion water (heat off) for 1 minute on each side,
remove, discard water. Grape leaves should change color and become
With your fingers, peal the layers of the cooked onions, being
careful not to tear them. You should have six or seven cup-like
onion skins, varying in size.
Using a spoon, stuff each onion skin half full with the rice
mixture. Close the onion skins, then arrange them in the bottom
of a 5-quart pot.
On a flat surface, lay one grape leaf flat, stem toward you.
Place one teaspoon of rice stuffing on the leaf on the end closer
to you. Flip the leaf sides over the rice to contain it, then
roll the leaf away from you to form a cylindrical shape.
As you make them, arrange the stuffed grape leaves in the
pot on top of the stuffed onions.
Repeat until the stuffing is used up.
Pour the remaining half of the tomato sauce over the Dolmas.
Add water to the surface. Add lemon juice and the remaining
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Invert a small plate on the Dolmas
to keep them in place while cooking.
Bring to a boil and cook covered on medium heat for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, let cook until all water is absorbed,
approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (You can tell if there is water
in the bottom of the pan by tilting it slightly.)
Remove from heat, let stand for 10 minutes .
Transfer Dolmas one by one onto a serving plate, or use the
serving method described in the "Maklooba" recipe.
Serve plain or with yogurt.
Say Bismillah and eat!