Dolmeh – Stuffed Vine Leaves
Persian dolmeh, stuffed vine leaves is a must have for my Shab-e-Yalda table.
What a feast for the eyes and the palate. These gorgeous tiny parcels, bejewelled with barberries and caramelised golden onions are just too good to resist. They finished at such speed, I seriously felt overwhelmed at my inability to eat quickly.
I have this thing with food, it's a serious relationship of appreciation, I tend to savour the flavours I've created, but also muse over what I could have done better or just loose myself in the moment, hence why I was extremely disappointed when I came out of my trance to see all was gone!
Needless to say these are absolutely delicious, however they do take a bit of time to make, but once you get into the swing of stuffing the vine leaves, it can be quite fulfilling watching the layers appear, or maybe that's just me!
Dolmeh is often eaten with bread and plain yogurt and in particular can be eaten with Lavash bread. which is a beautiful light paper thin bread that doesn't leave you totally stuffed.
I've garnished my vine leaf parcels with barberries and also added barberries to the stuffing, you can skip both these steps but the barberries do make everything look so very very pretty :)
1 jar of vine leaves in brine
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
ground saffron (generous pinch)
500g Lamb mince
8g parsley (finely chopped)
8g coriander (finely chopped)
8g leak (finely chopped)
20g dill (finely chopped)
20g chives (finely chopped)
20g mint (finely chopped)
20g basil (finely chopped)
10g tarragon (finely chopped)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/3 cup oil (for frying the onions)
1/4 cup white rice (par boiled)
1/4 cup yellow split peas (par boiled)
1/2 cup barberries
For the sauce
1 lemon (juiced)
2 cups water
1 tbsp granulated sugar
For the garnish
1/2 cup barberries (optional)
1 tsp granulated sugar (optional)
For the filling
Finely chop the onions and fry in oil until golden brown.
Add the turmeric and fry with the onions for 30 seconds.
Reduce the heat and add the salt, pepper, cinnamon and ground saffron. Give it a good mix.
Add the minced lamb and mix the spices well into the mince until the colour of the minced lamb has turned brown.
Cover the top of your pot and allow the mince to simmer over a low heat.
Par boil the rice and the yellow split peas. Add them to the mince lamb.
Wash the herbs and finely chop all of them
Add the chopped herbs to the mince.
Add the barberries
Add the crushed garlic and mix gently until all the minced lamb, rice, spilt peas and herbs are mixed well together.
Stuffing the vine leaves
Note: I used shop bought grape vines in brine
Remove the grape vines from the bottle and drain the excess water
Spread flat on a chopping board and remove the beginning of the stalk with a sharp knife, so you don't have anything sticking out
Take half a tablespoon of the stuffing and place in the centre of the leaf
Fold as you would a parcel or you can also roll it, however the traditional Persian way is to fold it as it it were a tiny parcel small enough to fit into your mouth :)
Place each stuffed vine parcel into the pot
Continue until you have about 2 to 3 layers
Pour the sauce over the stuffed vine parcels
Place a heavy plate on top of the parcels
Cover the top of your pot
Place over a medium to low heat for 30 mins or until the sauce has fully absorbed into the parcels
For the sauce
Add the juice of one lemon and 2 cups water to a saucepan
Add the sugar
Allow to water to boil slightly to dissolve the sugar
For the garnish
Slice the onion into thin crescents
Fry till golden brown and set aside
Lightly fry the washed barberries for 30 seconds
Add the sugar and fry on low heat until the sugar has dissolved
Remove from heat
Add the fried onions and mix gently
Once your stuffed vine dolmeh is ready, place on a serving dish and garnish with the mixed barberries and fried onions. Feast your eyes on the bejewelled parcels and enjoy.
Noosh-e-Jaan. Happy eating. 😁