A dear friend of mine likes to be a white-collar working woman and always associates preparing dolma with being a house wife – which she thinks is easier. What can I say, I am trying tobe both of them. If you are living in Istanbul like me, you are lucky – regarding dolma. You can buy ready vegetarian dolma even in weekly markets, in supermarkets or even order them home. I do the same from time to time. However whenever I want to boast or please my guests or have some extra time I find myself preparing dolma.
I don’t know if I have to say it again; this is a recipe I have shown in my Turkish Cooking Lessons and have prepared many times myself. The rolling and the part about the leaves is exactly the same as in groud meat dolma.
To start with; you should buy the correct leaves. In Turkey, the best are sold in the markets, when you are buying tell the seller what you will cook. If you will cook this dish with groundmeat stuffing you will need smaller leaves. If you will go for a vegetarian version cooked with rice you will be offered larger leaves. Pickle shops is another alternative to buy good quality leaves. The best grape leaves come from the Turkish city called Tokat, which my in-laws come from. Supermarkets should be your last choice to buy grape leaves. You will be putting in lot of time, so buying good leaves is worth for.
I suggest you set the scene first. Prepare a table with a comfortable chair and with the following within your reach:
- TV or video remote controller
- Your phone
- All the thoroughly washed grape leaves
- A flat plate
- A dessert spoon
- A scissors or a knife
- Stuffing pilfaf
- Some paper towels
And perhaps the best of all an extra pair of hands. You should wash the leaves very well. These leaves are kept as they are with the help of a good amount of salt, so washing thoroughly is important. You might be surprised but I use a pressure cooker for this dish. I you choose not to any other large pot will do. Throw in some stalks and spread down a few stiff or worn leaves to prevent the dolmas to stick in the bottom and get burnt.
Now you are ready to roll. Place a grape leaf on a flat dish. The shiny part should be facing downward. Put a teapoon of the stuffing on the part close to the stem. Fold two sides inwards and roll the wrap upwards like a cigar. Do not roll too loose or tight. Continue until either the leaves or the filling is finished.
When one or all of the leaves or the stuffing is finished, you are almost finished with the dish. Don’t forget to cover it with a plate so the rolls swim around while cooking.
If you have left over grape leaves you might want to serve them with a lovely Lentil and Bulghur Salad or save it in the freezer to use next time. If you have left over stuffing stuff it in boiled cabbage leafs.
The only tip you need about the stuffing is that you should not be overcooking the rice. It should be “almost” cooked, as it will be cooked again with the leaves.
Serve cold as an appetizer. Enjoy and show off.