Dolmas are a healthy and delicious finger food to take to a picnic or to add to a collection of mezedhes spread around the table.
They’re popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as in Turkey and Greece. As is the way with dishes native to a broad area of the world, the name of the dish can vary – so don’t be confused when you see them also referred to as dolmeh or dolmades!
Dolmas means ‘stuffed’, and can mean stuffed grape leaves, stuffed peppers, or stuffed eggplant. Today we’re going to focus on the grape leaf variety, which are rolled and filled with rice and sometimes meat. They go great with other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern staples, like as a baba ganoush accompaniment or side for grilled flatbreads and other meze classics.
I’ve brought together some of the best dolma recipes, with some tips from the makers themselves. Enjoy!
Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves
My mom was adamant on washing the grape leaves very well, separating each leave so it wasn’t to briny and she always made it a point to take off the little stem. My mom likes her grape leaves thinner and longer and I prefer them a bit shorter and fuller. Either way, have fun with it and make them with a group of people, it’s more fun and less work!
Dolmeh’ye Barge’e Mo
These Persian dolma means ‘stuffed thing’, usually hollowed vegetables or fruits. Stuffing wrapped leaves such as grape leaves or cabbage leaves are called sarma, although no distinction is made and all stuffed foods are now called dolma/dolmeh. Dolmeh stuffing are made with meat or meatless. For meatless version, raisins, currants, nuts and legumes are added.
Warak Dawali is one of my favorite dishes because it has a complex blend of flavors that mesh together so well. If you’re unfamiliar with it, this Nepalese delicacy consists of rice, pork or beef, garlic, and spices wrapped in grape leaves which are then slowly cooked alongside lamb or stuffed tomatoes for hours until everything has melted together into a savory sauce.
This dish usually calls for Mediterranean squash which can be hard to find in stores but you might strike lucky at an international grocery store.
Make sure you don’t roll the leaves too tight. There has to be enough room for the rice to cook and expand.
This is a vegetarian Azeri Persian recipe for stuffed grape leaves, or dolmeh barg. Place the fresh or pickled grape leaf with the smooth side down on a plate. Place a spoonful of the filling of grains, split peas, fresh herbs, and spices in the center of the leaf. Fold the 4 corners of the leaf up and overlap to cover the filling tightly. Arrange the stuffed dolmeh folded side down in the bottom of a nonstick pot without leaving any space between them.
Persian Meat & Pomegranate Dolmeh
The main tip I can give with rolling out the dolmeh is to resist the temptation to overstuff (use too much filling). You also want to tug the leaf and stretch it a little bit, but not too much to tear the leaf. It takes some practice, but easy to figure out. You can also stuff cabbage leaves, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions.. lots of options!
Persian Dolmeh Bargeh Mo
These stuffed grape leaves are so freakin’ delicious you won’t be able to resist licking your fingers/bowl/spoon/pot etc etc throughout the entire cooking process. Although a tad time consuming, they’re fairy easy to make and truly worth every ounce of effort – healthy and seriously satisfying.
Dolmeh Barge Mo
When you are ready to wrap these dolmeh, it’s often easiest to make a big line on your counter and do a bunch one after the other as you then get in the swing of things and you can place them in next to each other in your pan as they are done so they hold together better than if you do one at a time.
Eggplant Dolmeh-Ye Bademjan
Whilst the word ‘dolmeh’ applies to any kind of stuffed vegetable or even grape leaves, I’ve taken the stuffed eggplant and given it a slightly different look. Rather than hollow it out, cut deeply into it and stuff these slashes with the meat filling. What makes it truly delicious is the baharat spice mix I’ve used, as well as that hint of garlic and flavourful crumbled cheese.
Persian Stuffed Bell Peppers
Set aside a Sunday afternoon to make this classic Persian dish and you will be rewarded with an amazing smelling kitchen and a wonderful meal at the end. Dolmeh Felfel is stuffed peppers filled with a flavorful mixture of beef, rice, lentils and herbs simmered in an addictive saffron-lime sauce.
Mahshi Warak Enab
When rolling these stuffed leaves, roll them very tightly and pack them in the cooking pot tightly as well. If they’re too large or rolled loosely they may likely break open during cooking.
The tangier, the better. Be generous with the lemon juice! For best results, use freshly picked grape leaves. If not available, look for canned grape leaves with the least amount of preservatives