While vine leaves stuffed with minced lamb and beef are the most popular forms of dolma in Azerbaijan, fish dolma are a refreshing alternative. Stuffed vine leaves are served as a main dish in Azerbaijani cuisine, whereas in other countries they are often served as an appetizer. Azerbaijani dolma also have a distinctive round shape, unlike the Turkish cigar-shaped dolma.
Preparation time: 90 min
Cooking time: 45 min-1 hour
- 150 g/6 oz vine leaves
- 500 g/1 lb 4 oz white filleted fish (kutum is traditional but sea bass or red mullet can also be used)
- 200 g/8 oz onion
- salt & pepper
- coriander, dill, mint and tarragon
- 80 g/3.2 oz butter
- yoghurt and garlic to serve
- Take the butter out of the fridge so it will be soft enough to mix in.
- If using fresh herbs, wash and chop finely.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper and flake.
- Mince the fish, chopped onion and herbs. Add the butter.
- 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 fish mixture 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 fish stock (you can make it from the fish bones) or water to the pan to the level of the plate.
- Bring the saucepan to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour until the fish is cooked.
- To check the level of seasoning during cooking, dip a piece of bread into the liquid in the pan and taste.
- Serve the dolma with fresh bread and yoghurt mixed with finely chopped or crushed garlic.