Monday, May 19, 2014

Dolmathakia - Stuffed grape leaves

No greek table is complete without dolma, the all-time favorite, and my favorite too as a matter of fact. A lot of variations of this dish are present in cuisines of several other countries, including Middle Eastern, Persian, Turkish and Greek. I’ve tried different versions but still there is something special about Greek dolma. There is this irresistible flavor of aromatic fresh herbs mixed, with vegetables or meat and rice. I hope you enjoy my Greek version too
50-60 fresh grape leaves or 1 jar (16 oz.) brined grape leaves
1-cup olive oil (divided into 1/2 cups)
6 large onions, minced
1 medium whole red tomato
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp. dried mint
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Juice of  lemon
Rinse the leaves well to remove brine. Place the leaves in boiling water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes to soften them and make them more pliable. Remove from water and set aside.
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, heat 1/2 cup olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, tomato, parsley, dill, pine nuts, mint, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow the filling to cool.
Line the bottom of a heavy saucepan with 2 or three grape leaves (I use the broken or torn ones for this.)
Place a leaf with the stem towards you on a flat surface. The underside of the leaf should be face up. (The veins of the leaf are raised on the underside.) Using the point of a sharp paring knife cut out the stem of the leaf. Overlap the bottom two sections of the leaf toward the center.
Place a tablespoon of filling in the bottom center of the leaf, just above the stem. Fold the bottom section up to cover the filling. Fold the sides in towards the center.
Continue rolling the packet up towards the top point of the leaf.
Place the rolls in layers in the saucepan. Be sure to place the packets with the seam on the bottom.
Pour remaining 1/2 cup olive oil over the dolmathakia and enough water to cover them by about an inch. Place an inverted heatproof plate on top of the rolls to keep them submerged in the water. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour or until the leaves are tender and the rice filling is cooked through.
Dolma is traditionally eaten warm with a serving of chilled garlic yogurt sauce. The sauce is made by mixing freshly squeezed garlic with plain yogurt. Feel free to add more garlic to taste or completely eliminate it from the recipe if you prefer. The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. 

Yogurt souce with Vegetables: 2 cups plain yogurt, preferably homemade; 4-5 tbsp cucumber, grated or minced; 4-5 tbsp carrot, grated; 1-2 tbsp onion minced; 1 tsp of fresh cilantro or mint leaves, chopped finely; 2-3 cloves of fresh crushed garlic (optional); 1 tsp salt. 
Egg and Lemon souce: 2 egg yolks, beaten till thick and lemony; 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Bon Appetit! Kali orexi!