Dolma (Ottoman Turkish: طوٓلمه) is a family of stuffed dishes common in Mediterranean cuisine and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Stuffed with lamb and rice grape leaves is one of the version. I was never impressed by what is sold or served as dolma in the U.S. Most of the time it is dry and tasteless. As a result, I never attempted to make it at home, thinking it’s not my thing. That was until some of my friends bragged about their homemade dolma with fresh grape leaves. The recipe below is my first try and I consider it very much up to my taste!
If you like dolma, try making it at home with fresh grape leaves. During the season, they are available at Phoenicia. If not, drive to the closest winery (e.g., one of the numerous wineries in Hill Country on 71 or 290 on your way to Fredericksburg) and ask permission to pick some leaves. Using fig tree leaves is another option. Since I have a tree in my backyard, I made a few rolls with them to experiment. They are brighter green on the pictures below. I like grape leaves better.
Dolma with Lamb and Fresh Grape Leaves
Get Texas grass-fed lamb and chop it yourself for the juiciest staffing. Use fresh herbs and freshly ground spices. It’s totally worth the effort!
Wash fresh grape leaves and place them in a deep dish. Bring 3-4 cups of water to boiling and pour it over the grape leaves. Let them blanch for 10 minutes, submerged. Strain the liquid, let them cool down to room temperature, remove stems.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300F, measure all the ingredients. Finely chop lamb using your favorite method. Transfer the lamb into a bowl.
Wash and finely chop the herbs and garlic and add them to the lamb.
Add the stock, dry rice, mix everything well, and knead the mixture using your hands for about 5 minutes.
Roll dolma placing leaves smooth side down. Stuff each leaf with about 2 tsp of the lamb mixture as shown on the pictures.
Place the rolls into a deep roasting dish, add enough stock to cover them, cover with a lid or foil, and cook in the oven for an hour.
Serve hot or warm 10-12 rolls per person if serving as a main dish. Dolma is often accompanied by herbed and garlicky yogurt to dip rolls.over with a lid or foil and cook in the oven for an hour.
In this recipe, with chicken stock, every roll is 28 cal.
Adam J. Silverstein. «Islamic history. A Very Short Introduction» — Oxford University Press, 2010 — p. 60 — ISBN 978-0-19-954572-8 "Yoghurt, stuffed vine-leaves (dolma), kebabs, shawarma, and baklava, amongst many other well-known foods, all originate with the Turks (though Turkish coffee does not)."
The Cambridge World History of Food — Cambridge University Press, 1999 — p. 1144, 1147 — ISBN 9780521402163 "Their dolmehs, or stuffed vegetables, the Iranians borrowed from Turkey. Minced meat is the filling for the numerous dolmasi, or stuffed vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, vegetable marrow, and grape leaves."