Monday, August 23, 2010

Etli Yaprak Dolmasi - 21 August 2010

For a long while we were thinking about the meat dolma (more commonly called as dolmades in Greek), the minced meat and rice wrapped in wine leaves which we can only eat once or twice a year when we are in Turkey; especially after our friends Tracey and Michelle cooked for their Lebanese night (Lebanese Dinner). The hardest thing with the meat dolma is to find the perfect wine leaves besides the hours needed to prepare it. From his last trip to Turkey Alp brought those perfect wine leaves and this Saturday afternoon we decided to do nothing but to cook meat dolma.

Hence we opened our sacred Turkish cookbook (Ekrem Yegen) and followed his recipe. First we boiled the wine leaves in water for five minutes and then in order to balance their saltiness we put them in fresh cold water after boiling and changed the water couple of times. In the meantime we fried the onion with butter (the amount of butter can be arranged according to your judgment as according to Ekrem Yegen high cholesterol is not a bad thing!) until it is translucent and added the rice to be cooked with one glass of water just like normal rice (for about 10 minutes).

While rice is cooking we started to cut the wine leaves in half and take out the thick stems in the middle. This operation is lasted for about an hour. But of course when the rice is cooked, we took it aside and combined it with the minced meat, herbs and salt&pepper (by the way the minced meat should be full-fat) and stirred the rice-meat mixture for at least 5 minutes and it was ready to be rolled into the leaves. Here you need a little bit of rolling techniques but you come up with a good technique after couple of rollings (and for sure everybody rolled something in their lives – a burrito, a borek (pastry), a cigar!). And also the rolling process has a soothing effect on the soul, almost like a meditation. 

As we were rolling the dolmas, we were arranging them in a circular shape in a small pot (here it is important to use a small pot as we don’t want the dolmas to swim around in a big pot). Also we put a large leaf at the bottom of the pot (I’m not exactly sure why!). We decided to stop rolling when the pot was almost full (the rolling took about an hour as well) and the dolma was ready to be cooked in two glasses of water with a knob of butter. Ideally we should have put a plate on top of the dolmas and cover the pot with its lid (the weight of the plate will prevent the dolmas to swim around) but the only thing that fitted in the pot was a lid of a smaller pot. The dolma was cooked in half an hour. 

Since we had a leftover rice-meat mixture, we decided to make a quick quesadilla adding parsley and grated cheddar cheese as starter (generally these leftovers end up in trash if we don’t do something with them immediately). 

Also a coban salad (tomato-cucumber-onion-parsley and little bit of feta cheese with balsamic dressing) was a perfect choice for this meal.

We can happily say that the dolma was delicious (our kitchen supervisor – Ari said the same). Dolmas tasted almost same as my grandmom’s (but to be honest no dolma can beat my grandmom’s etli yaprak dolmasi..)

Ingredients for Dolma (for 4):
  • 400 gr - Wine leaves (in jar)
  • 500 gr minced meat - (don't go for low fat - regular makes it better)
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 1 espresso cup rice - washed
  • 1 bunch dill - some fresh mint is good as well
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 table spoons butter (depends how much you want to use)
  • And yoghurt to serve


  1. i miss so much..hmm..let's try to find some leaves here too..i can i guess, i never saw around but...