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Stuffed vine leaves – Yarpag dolmasi

Stuffed vine leaves - Yarpag dolmasi
The term dolma covers a variety of stuffed vegetable dishes, widespread in the Middle East and Mediterranean area.

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
Serves: 5-6


  • 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.

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