Whether for an appetizer or a light lunch, these Persian Stuffed Grape Leaves, Beef and Pomegranate Dolmeh, are delicious and satisfying.
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! This dolmeh recipe is stuffed with ground beef, rice and pomegranate molasses.
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!) the grape leaves 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 boiling 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.
This video shows you how to make dolmeh with a vegetarian stuffing made with short grain arborio rice and raisins (click here for full recipe). But it really shows you how easy it is to stuff and roll those grape leaves:
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!
- 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup chopped parsley, packed
- 2 TBS chopped mint
- 2 TBS pomegranate concentrate
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cup cooked basmati rice
- 26 large grape leaves, canned or jarred
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- In an oven-safe large non-stick skillet, over medium-high heat add 1 tsp olive oil and chopped onions.
- When onions start to soften, about 5 minutes, add ground beef. Break down the meat as it cooks.
- When the meat is browned, about 7 minutes, mix in parsley, mint, pomegranate concentrate and lemon juice.
- Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in cooked rice. Continue stirring until mixed in and remove from heat.
- In a 4-quart non-stick pot add 2 tsp olive oil.
- On a flat work surface, remove and pat dry grape leaves.
- Working with one grape leaf at a time, spread a grape leaf flat on your work surface, with the vein side up.
- Add to the center of your grape leaf 1 TBS of rice filling.
- Depending on the size of your grape leaves, the amount of filling can vary.
- Starting with the stem, pull the lower part of the grape leaf over the filling.
- Tuck the tip under the filling.
- Keeping the dolmeh tight, but not pulling so hard that you rip the grape leaf, pull the left flap of the leaf over to the center.
- Repeat with the right flap of the leaf.
- Tightly roll the dolmeh into the top of the grape leaf. See pictures below for more guidance.
- Place dolmeh into the oiled pot.
- Repeat steps 9 through 17 until all the stuffing is used.
- Layer the dolmeh on top of each other.
- Pour water and lemon juice evenly over the dolmeh.
- When done, place a plate on top of the dolmeh. This keeps the dolmeh from expanding and opening up while cooking.
- Cover the pot and cook over low heat for 1 hour.
- Remove plate.
- Dolmeh can be served immediately warm or at room temperature.
- You can also keep the dolmeh refrigerated in an air-tight container for 3 days, then reheat when ready to serve.
Great as an appetizer or a main course. Can't find grape leaves? Blanch and use fresh cabbage leaves. This filling is also great stuffed into bell peppers, tomatoes and onions.
- California Grape Leaves16OZ
- Sadaf Pomegranate Concentrate, 2.7 fl. oz
- Royal White Basmati Rice, 20 Pound
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Serving Size:1 dolmeh
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 87 Total Fat: 1.7g Saturated Fat: 0.5g Cholesterol: 16mg Sodium: 134mg Carbohydrates: 10.9g Fiber: 0.3g Sugar: 0.8g Protein: 6.2g