Stuffed vine leaves or yarpag dolmasi are one of the most popular forms of dolma. Stuffed vine leaves are served as a main dish in Azerbaijani cuisine, whereas in other countries they are often served as an appetiser. Azerbaijani dolma also have a distinctive round shape, unlike the Turkish cigar-shaped dolma.
Preparation time: 90 min
Cooking time: 60 min
- 150 g/6 oz vine leaves
- 500 g/1 lb 4 oz minced lamb or 250 g/10 oz minced lamb and 250 g/10 oz minced beef
- 200 g/8 oz onion
- Salt & pepper
- 1/2 tspn turmeric
- 1/2 tspn cinnamon
- Fresh herbs – coriander, dill, mint and tarragon
- 50 g/2 oz short-grain rice
- 50 g/2 oz chickpeas (optional)
- 80 g/3.2 oz lamb fat (traditional) or butter (for a lighter filling)
- Take the butter out of the fridge so it will be soft enough to mix in.
- If using fresh herbs, wash and chop finely.
- Wash and rinse the rice but do not cook in advance.
- If you are using chickpeas, cook them in advance and halve the cooked peas.
- Mix the mince and chopped onion with your hands.
- Add the rice, chopped herbs or dried spices, salt & pepper, chickpeas and lamb fat or butter. Mix thoroughly.
- If using fresh vine leaves, wash and parboil. If using bottled vine leaves, put them in a large bowl, add hot water and leave for two to three minutes to soften. Strain the leaves.
- Take a vine leaf, place a dollop of mince in the middle and fold the corners of the leaf down and then up into a ball.
- Place the dolma in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover the bottom of the pan with dolma and then add subsequent layers.
- Place an inverted dessert plate or saucer on top of the dolma and weigh down with a heavy object, such as a stone. This helps to stop the dolma unwrapping during cooking. Add water to the pan to the level of the plate.
- Bring the saucepan to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for one to one and a half hours until the meat and rice are cooked.
- To check the level of seasoning during cooking, dip a piece of bread into the liquid in the pan and taste.
- Dolma are served with yoghurt mixed with finely chopped garlic and fresh bread.