Dolmas of Vine Leaves
An Azerbaijani festive table is impossible to imagine without this classic Azerbaijani dolma with vine leaves and garlic yogurt. We got this recipe from Esmer, who calls the dolma ‘the queen of Azerbaijani cuisine’. In Azerbaijan, the dolma, which means "filled" in Turkish, has hundreds of variants, of which the recipes are passed on from generation to generation. Esmer explains that rolling the dolma the right way is an art and everyone has their own trick doing it. She explains that the challenge lies in packaging the dolma small and elegantly. They should be nicely rounded and the leaves should not open during the cooking process. It is a time-consuming job, but it is not for nothing that the dolma is so popular among the Azerbaijani population.
Step 1. Make the filling
Roughly chop the onions and grind them in the food processor.
Then add the coriander, dill and mint leaves to the mixture and grind again in the food processor.
Then add the minced meat, salt and pepper and turn the food processor on again on a low speed until there are no more coarse pieces in the mixture.
Place the uncooked rice in a colander and rinse well (Want to know why? Esmer tells you here).
Add the washed, uncooked rice to the mixture and toss well.
Do you use fresh vine leaves? Then go to step 2a. Do you use canned vine leaves? Then go to step 2b.
Step 2a. Prepare the vine leaves (fresh vine leaves)
Blanch the fresh vine leaves in small portions in boiling water. This makes them softer and more pliable.
Then let them dry and cut off the stems.
Step 2b. Prepare the vine leaves (canned vine leaves)
Carefully separate the vine leaves.
Rinse them briefly under the tap in a colander to make them less salty.
Step 3. Fold the dolmas
Take a medium sized pan and place a few leaves in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.
Now you can start packing your dolma. Take a leaf and place it shiny side down on the palm of your hand.
Place a small amount of stuffing at the stem end of the leaf. Fold the top down over the filling, then the sides, and roll up tightly to get a nice square/round ball, about 1 inch in diameter.
Place the stuffed leaves seam side down on the bottom of the pan. Build this up in several layers until you have made 40-80 dolmas.
When you're done, put some butter on it and pour in some water. The water should come about half way.
Then place a small plate on the dolmas to prevent the leaves from opening. Cover the pan and bring to a boil.
After boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1.5 hours. In the meantime, go to step 4.
Is the filling done by then and the leaves soft? Then your dolmas are good.
Step 4. Make the Garlic Yogurt Sauce
Crush the garlic cloves and mix it in a bowl with yogurt.
Nuş olsun ('Enjoy your meal!')
The special dolma tradition of Azerbaijan has even been included in the UNESCO cultural heritage list. Do you want to know more about the special traditions that Azerbaijan has? Esmer tells you more about it.
40 - 80 vine leaves
3 tbsp butter
2 cloves of garlic
250 grams of Greek yogurt
300 grams of ground beef (vegetarian alternative: replace with rice)
60 gr white round rice (Turkish pirinc)
50 grams fresh coriander
50 grams of fresh dill
15 grams fresh mint (use only the leaves)
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp black pepper
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