Friday, April 1, 2016


Dolma is a middle-eastern/turkish dish comprised of grape leaves stuffed with a meat, herb, and rice mixture. It is served with a sauce made of herbs, garlic and sour cream. The sauce should be prepared a couple of hours in advance so the flavors permeate the sour cream. Traditionally, this dish is made with lamb, but can be made with a beef/pork combination or just beef. We just used beef tonight.
It is best to use young grape leaves. We purchased the grape leaves in a jar, and unfortunatelly this jar had various size grape leaves and some of them were very big, resulting in large and non-uniform dolmas. Fresh leaves can also be used, but they will need to be soaked in hot water for 5 to 7 minutes. to make them tender and ready to use. The herbs are best fresh, but when those are not available, dried ones will also do. It is also okay to omit or change the amount of the herbs (basil, parsley, dill, etc)
We used the recipe from here: The website is in Russian, but there are a lot of great pictures!

Yummy meat inside of the dolma

Served with the sauce

Garlicky Herb Sour Cream


Raw dolma 

meat mixture


1 jar grape leaves or fresh grape leaves can be used
1 lb ground meat (lamb, or beef + pork mixture) is best
6 tablespoons of arborio rice
1 yellow onion, chopped
small bundle basil
small bundle mint
small bundle of dill
small bundle of cilantro
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 cans beef broth

1 cup sour cream
6 cloves of garlic
basil, cilantro, dill or parsley (we had parsley, the rest we just added dried spices)


1. Wash the grape leaves from the jar and cut off the stems at the base of the leaves. Lay the leaves glossy side down. If using fresh leaves, soak them in boiled hot water for 5 to 7 minutes, then drain and remove the stems. Uniform, small, young grape leaves are best. Save any old or torn leaves to line the base of the dutch oven.
2. Add rice to a small sauce pan add water (1 part water - 2 parts rice). Boil. After boiling, cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Add to a large bowl
2. Heat up an pan and add butter and oil.
3. Fry the chopped onions until softened. Ad to the large bowl with rice.
4. Chop up the herbs and add to the large bowl with rice and onions.
5. Add the meat to the large bowl.
6. Add cumin, salt and pepper and mix by hand.
8. Line a dutch oven with the old, large, or torn grape leaves.
8. Make a little "sausage" out of the meat mixture and lay it at the base of the grape leaf (glossy side down). Fold the grape leaf, like a burrito, over the meat. Fold the front forward first, then fold the sides in, then roll the meat onto the rest of the grape leaf. Place the dolma into the grape leaf lined dutch oven.
9. Continue with step 7 until you have no more grape leaves or meat. The dolmas can be layered on top of each other.
10. Pour beef broth over the dolmas. Add water to cover.
11. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook for 1.5 hours.
12. Let the dolma sit for 10 minutes before serving so they absorb the broth. Serve with sauce!

For the sauce:
1. Mix together chopped garlic, sour cream and herbs and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. 

What we liked:

This is a deliciously spiced version of dolma. All the spices come together for a really great flavor. This is a relatively quick recipe to make and the dolmas turn out really soft and juicy. 

What we didn't like:

The grape leaves from the jar we bought at Talin were old, large, and not uniform :( This resulted in some slight "monster" dolmas this time around. We'll have to make sure to purchase the young grape leaves next time.

What Kaspian thought about it:

He was really into his chicken nuggets tonight after realized he can dip them into sour cream. Yum. He also calls himself the "sourcream monster". 

Next time:

We will try these with lamb and maybe more non-dried herbs. 

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