Muslim Matrimonials and More's Best Recipes


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 with practice.


2 cups rice, soaked in water and covered for about 30 minutes, then drained
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 grape leaves
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 limp.

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.


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