Most of us encounter these little delights in the form of their Greek cousin, Dolmades. However, these parcels of rice wrapped in vine leaves also appear in Iranian cuisine (and some other Middle Eastern cuisines) called Dolma. The term Dolma simply refers to something which is stuffed - in this case it refers to stuffed vine leaves. Eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and many other vegetables can also be made into Dolma, simply by stuffing with a rice filling.
I've never been very fond of dolmades when I have had them from delicatessens or bought in restaurants or supermarkets. So, I have always thought that one day I would make my own and fill them with flavours that I love in the hope that I would finally enjoy them! I certainly did - having freshly made ones made such an amazing difference and I could happily eat these in vast quantities!
Preserved vine leaves (available from Middle Eastern grocers in packets or jars)
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
1 large tomato
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 bunch dill
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and then drain and rinse immediately with cold water.
2. Place the rice in a large mixing bowl and spread it out to allow it to dry while you prepare the rest of the filling.
3. Score the tomato with a cross on the underside and place it in a bowl of boiling hot water for about 2 minutes, or until the skin is split and wrinkled. Remove and rinse under cold water. Peel the skin off and discard.
4. Dry fry the pine nuts in a saucepan to toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently and watching carefully to make sure they don't burn.
5. Finely chop the artichoke hearts, peeled tomato and dill.
6. Mix the rice, tomato, pine nuts, artichoke hearts and dill together. Season to taste with salt and pepper (optional).
7. Spread out a vine leaf (set aside any that have tears or holes and trim any long stems) and place a heaped tablespoon of rice filling at the base (at the point where the stem would have attached). Fold the two sides inwards and roll the leaf up tightly like a small cigar (because we've all done that before right??).
8. Line a wide pan with some of the ripped/discarded vine leaves and place the rolled vine leaves on them as you go, packing them in tightly so that they won't move around or unroll.
9. Continue rolling until all the mix is used up. You will find that your dolma will vary in size because the vine leaves come in all different sizes!
10. When the pan is full, add the vegetable stock to the pan. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the top.
11. Place a plate upside down on top the the dolma in the pan to stop them moving around. Place the pan over a medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
12. Remove from the pan and serve warm or cold.
Makes 30-35 dolma (depending on the size of your vine leaves!).
This month I'm featuring lots of amazing Iranian recipes!
Check out my other Iranian recipe posts: