Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stuffed Vine leaves. Dolmades. 'Warrah'

Since I left home 6 years ago, there is one thing that i always ask for when I go home. 'Warrah' the arabic version of the well known Greek 'dolmades'. I think these are infinitely better than the dolmades that I have had at Greek restaurants (though I may be biased). And when we make them we make HEAPS, and usually with stuffed white zucchinis, and stuffed long eggplants. A few weeks ago my mother was in town and she brought with her some vineleaves from a friends vine.It is difficult to give an exact recipe for this as my mothers ideas of quantities is 'by eye' which really is a very individual thing. I finally know how to make this, but I will warn you, it takes time and is best done with other people to make the time go by quicker. My other dilemna, being in Melbourne is where to get fresh vineleaves as my source in Sydney was my relatives backyards. I will have to go scouting around Richmond for some old Greek vineleaves (if anyone can point me in the right direction i will be grateful ;)

Firstly, get a big dish to hold all the stuffing together. it is best to get a deep pyrex so you can mix the ingredients with your hands. Finely chop a big bunch of parsley (flat leaf), about 5-6 tomatoes and 2-3 onions. Add some crushed garlic (about 5-6 cloves but to taste), salt, black pepper, mixed spice. Oh and 2 cupes of long rain rice, thoroughly washed. Add some olive oil (I told you the quantities are a bit off). You dont want the mixture to be too wet as it will make stuffing it hard.

Now to the vineleaves. wash them very well. Soak them for about a minute in hot water and then squeeze the water out carefully without tearing them. At this stage it is best to get a big glass chopping board. Lay out a vineleaf, dull side up. Carefully cut out any stem left. Put a small amount of the rice mixture (be careful not to overstuff as they will open up during cooking) at the bottom of the vineleaf in a horizontal log, fold up sides and bottom and then roll up. Make them as tight as possible. Arrange in a pot that is large enough to fit all the vineleaves but not too large so the lid is close to the top layer of vineleaves. if this is too hard, it is common to put a plate over the top to keep in the moisture.

Make a sauce out of 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste, the juice of about 2-3 lemons, hot water and some more oil. You want the sauce to be thin but bright red. Pour over vineleaves, the liquid should just come to the top layer of vineleaves. Bring the pot to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer and leave for about an hour, it shouldnt take more than an hour and a half, the best way to tell if it is done is to taste it and then you can change the seasoning.

Serve with raita (yoghurt, salt, mint and garlic) and a fresh salad.



mink said...

I stumbled upon your blog looking for stuffed vineleaves recipe - so thanks! The Jewish Sephardic version I usually make (the recipe is packed away) has far less tomatoes as far as I remember.
Never tried making it with fresh leaves, always with ones I get in the Turkish shops in brine. Fresh must be better.

Ran said...

Fresh leaves are much better! But if you cant find them the packed ones are fine...
There are two types of vineleaves that the arabs make - the one i have here is the vegetarian version or 'siami'. the meat version 'dowali' I dont like as much - it doesnt have any tomato in it but is cooked in a tomato paste and usually there are lamb chops placed on the bottom of the pot during cooking which end up very tender and fragranced with the vineleaves (very yum)

Lucy said...

Ran, I think we need you to join us in AOF's next dolmade making session. Your mum's recipe is brilliant. Precise quantities kinda bore me..this is a much more beautiful, authentic way of cooking. Lovely!

Ran said...

thanks Lucy. I might take you up on that - it is best enjoyed with other people!