vine leaves is a world tradion. Some people call it dolma,
some call it Yaprak—I call it delicious!
First things first: rinse and then
soak the rice for at least 20 minutes to soften it up.
Then, strain and in a large bowl, mix together the washed
rice with onions (if using), and spices, including chopped
fennel or dill. Set aside.
* If using fresh grape leaves, you'll
need to do something to make them soft enough to work with.
The traditional method is to place each leaf in boiling
water for a few seconds, and then move it into a ready
bowl with cold water. Repeat this for all the grape leaves
you have. An easier method for the modern man is to place
the leaves in a microwave for 1 minute to soften them up.
Of course you can also buy grape leaves prepared in brine
from the supermarket, but I find these very salty. If you
get them, rinse them with cold water first to get rid of
the excess salt.
The dolma's outer shell is simply
one large grape leaf placed flat on your counter.
Place a large spoonful of the rice mixture in the
center of the leaf, fold over the sides first, then roll
bottom to top—exactly like a burrito! Remember
that the rice will grow when cooked, so DO NOT OVERSTUFF!
for the important part: Coat a medium saucepan with olive
place each "dolma" into the saucepan as you finish rolling
them. Stick them as closely together as possible—this will
prevent them from coming apart—until your saucepan is stuffed.
Pour 1 cup water, the juice of one
lemon, and some sea salt over your dolma. Turn on medium
heat until the water starts to bubble, then close with
a tight-fitting lid and reduce the flame to simmer. Allow
to cook for about 25 minutes.
You can enjoy these dolma's
hot or cold—I like them hot! Serve with an extra coat
of olive oil and lemon juice on top—it's sooo good!
Dolma actually comes from a Turkish word that means "stuffed." But
what you stuff in it is up to you. I also like to add ground
meat or scrambled eggs to add more protein. You can also
adjust the amount of water in the saucepan to create rice
that is firmer or softer depending on your taste!