What are your favorite fillings?
Greek-style? Persian-style? California-style? Meat? No meat?
I've had some excellent stuffed grape leaves at restaurants, and I've also had some truly awful ones.
Our "favorite" family activity is to make large potfuls of dolma. We line the bottom of the pots with chunks of root vegetables which end up absorbing the goodness. Tedious to make, but they are so worth it.
They keep relatively well - in fact they are wonderful microwaved later... which tells me I should be able to find good ones which don't have the off-taste I often find in store-bought dolmas. And why are they so expensive?
I make them Persian style - and use sauteed ground beef (lowfat), onion, basmati, toasted pine nuts, dill weed, and yellow split peas for the filling. They go in a large pot, layered with leftover grape leaves, and get a topping of lemon juice, sugar and water, then are cooked for an hour, hour and a half. Love them either hot or cold, with or without yogurt!
In NYC there is a 24 hour Turkish kebab house that serves delicious dolma: Bereket on Houston and Orchard. They're meatless, and they have a distinctive but subtle cinnamon flavor. I have no idea what everything in the filling is, but as far as I can tell they use a short grain rice, raisins and pine nuts...and I'm sure several secrets they won't share.
I make authentic greek stuffed grape leaves (MIL in Greece taught me). Mix ground lamb,onions, rice, dried spearmint, dash of cinnamon, salt and pepper, evoo. I buy jarred grape leaves- Orlando Brand from California are the best- rinse and squeeze out; roll up the meat filling in leaves- put in large dutch oven with lemon juice, hot water and butter. Cook about 2 1/2 hours. Make a roux with flour and butter, add the hot stock from the pan; beat two eggs and juice of 3 lemons together; temper with broth mixture then add in- stir until nice and thick and serve egg lemon sauce over the grape leaves. There are really delicious. cold grape leaves with rice-ugh!
In Armenian cuisine, dolma are served hot, stuffed with lamb/beef and rice, and accompanied by yogurt. They are usually made with grape leaves, but occasionally you can use other veggies, such as hollowed-out zucchini. Grocerytrekker is right, they can often be better microwaved the next day.
Yelangi is served cold, made of grape leaves stuffed predominantly with rice, and accompanied by lemon. They keep in the fridge for a while, but tend to get soggy.
Onion, garlic, rigani, rice, chicken stock. Pork, mint. Wrap. Beef stock, lemon juice, butter. Sorry - I had to write the ingredients in order or I'd leave something out!
They get eaten hot out of the pot, then warm out of the pot, then cold until they run out! I agree they are a pain to make but I never buy them as they have always been awful. That said, I find making them far less stressful now that I buy the leaves pre-blanched and brined, having to start the process by picking the leaves from teh vine and blanch them was what made the exercise terribly sweaty. (Big pot of boiling water on a hot summers day...)
"Dolma" is actually a very forgiving, inclusive word in any case.
California style dolma would be the non-rule-bound, anything goes, "none of the above" dolmas made with California grape leaves and seasonal fresh produce. Fillings may include any sensible combination of pork, chicken, duck, seafood (as well as beef or lamb), varieties of rice, veggies, herbs, goat cheese, fruits and nuts.
Only one rule in my book: it should go well with good yogurt.
Lamb and rice with lemon, no tomato. Sometimes I add pine nuts or a touch of cinnamon to the mix. I learned to roll grapeleaves when I worked in a Lebanese restaurant, so I would assume I like Lebanese style. *lol*
In my experience, bad grocery store grapeleaves are usually the vegetarian ones -- I think they might just get held too long because they do keep so well, and aren't governed by the same kinds of "when it expires" regulations as products with meat in them.
And I'm with rworange -- what is California Style???
Thanks for the post on dolma's. I didn't even know they were served warm until last week (haven't tried them yet though).
That might be my problem with dolmas. I never liked them. However, the type I've had have been cold and stuffed with rice.
What would be a California-style dolma?
Wiki on dolmas