Everyone has their own recipe for dolma, but I like my own version of grape leaf rolls the most.
Grape leaves are sour, and when we cook them with meat and rice it turns into very delicious food. The added spices should emphasize the taste, but not overpower it. This is why I only use certain spices – salt, black pepper, coriander seeds, dried or fresh basil, and cumin to make my dolma. I also like adding lamb fat, when available. That’s it. I keep it simple. I would not skip any of the spices listed in the recipe though as they add that special unique flavor to the dish.
I usually eyeball the ingredients, and never measure them using a scale or cups. I make sure that the volume of the ground meat and chopped onions are almost the same. The volume of rice is double less than the volume of meat.
How to make Dolma – Grape Leaf Rolls
- Fresh or Canned Grape Leaves – about 30-40 leaves
- 1 lb (~500 gr) of Lamb or Beef
- 250 gr Onion (1 big or 2 small)
- 1/2 cup (100 gr) Short Grain Rice (Sushi rice)
- 1-2 bunches of Fresh Basil Leaves or 1-2 Tbsp of Dried Basil Leaves
- 2 teaspoons of Cumin/Jeera
- 1 teaspoon of Coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon of Black Pepper (freshly ground is best)
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt (or for taste)
- 30 ml Melted Butter or Olive oil
- 30 gr Lamb Fat (can be skipped, but recommended)
How to make dolma (grape leaf rolls):
- First, prepare the filling. Grind the meat and the onion using a meat grinder or food processor. Add chopped fresh basil or dried basil. Freshly grind the coriander and black pepper. Add the spices. Wash the rice and add it too. Add melted butter or olive oil. Mix well.
- Wash the leaves if they are fresh, or get the canned leaves from the jar. Pour boiling hot water over them and discard the water after 5 seconds.
- Scoop 1 tablespoon of the filling and place in the middle of a leaf. Close one side, and then the other two parallel sides. Roll up. Repeat until there is no more filling left.
- Place the rolls inside a pot. Do not use non-enameled cast-iron. I usually use my stainless pot to cook my dolma.
- Sprinkle some salt and pour water over grape leaf rolls until water slightly covers them.
- Bring to boil, then lower the heat and cover the lid. Cook covered for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, turn off the heat and let rest for 5 more minutes.
- Serve with kefir or sour cream. Dolmas pair with heavy cream really well too.