The Greeks call this dish “dolmata.” The Persians call this dish “dolmeh.” I just call these little bundles of joy, INCREDIBLE! We, Persians, like to stuff everything: red peppers, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and every guest’s bellies until they burst! I was so excited to see that The Daring Cook’s October challenge was the dolmeh. It had been years since I made them, why? I have no idea! And I decided to use my own recipe using Pomegranate Molasses.
Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
The great thing about dolmeh is that you can stuff it with anything you want. The key is to not over-stuff (I know it’s tempting!) and to keep the rolls tight as you roll them. It can be a little tricky because the grape leaves can rip if you pull too tightly, which I did, and then you have to discard the torn leaf and use another one.
I started with browning onions and then added my lean ground beef. Next I added parsley and mint, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses.
What is pomegranate molasses? Well, in a nutshell, it’s pomegranate juice with a bit of sugar reduced down until the water has evaporated and you have a thick syrup-like consistency. This can be found in most middle-eastern stores or here’s the link of the brand I like to use, Sadaf, found at Amazon.
Next, I added some cooked basmati rice. Basmati rice, when cooked properly, is a fluffy but NOT sticky rice. We cook it ahead of time and steam it again in the dolmeh and they don’t turn everything to mush.
Now the filling is done. We are ready to rock and ROLL!!!
If you are using fresh grape leaves (versus the jarred) then you have to blanch them in water. But, I’m lucky to have the jarred leaves, so I just remove them from my jar and do a quick pat-dry with the paper towel.
Then I lay it flat on my cutting board, vein side up, and I was able to spoon a little over a tablespoon of stuffing into the center of the grape leaf. I pull the bottom of the leaf with the stem over the stuffing and tuck the stem underneath. Then like you would fold an eggroll, you fold over the left side of the leaf, and then the right.
Again, keep everything tight. Now you take the roll, and roll it up to the top remaining part of the grape leaf. And you are done!
Place the dolmeh in an oiled pot, seam side down. You roll and roll until you are out of stuffing, layering the dolmeh on top of each other, layer by layer.
Pour a little lemon juice and water over everything and place a plate over the dolmeh. This keeps them from puffing up while cooking and falling apart. Simmer for one hour and the dolmeh are ready!
We served ours with Mast-o Khiar (yogurt with cucumbers). Lip-smacking good. I bet you can’t eat just one!
For the full recipe for Beef & Pomegranate Dolmeh, click here!
And for more great recipes, visit Family Spice!