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Dolmades

I feel all alone! :'( I've attempted to get three people (two family members, one significant other) to try dolmades unsuccessfully. One took one bite and rejected the poor little dolma, citing "textural issues". The other two wouldn't even try them! Granted, these were store bought, prepared dolmades, but I can attest to their goodness. I guess what I'm asking is, is this a common occurence? Do people (I mean ya'll and the people ya'll associate with) generally dislike dolmades?

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  1. As a big lover of dolmades, I have to say that I do not believe that all are created equal. Some can be soaked in enough olive oil to have a very smooth almost slimey texture, whereas others if the rice or grape leaf is very dry can have an awkward almost crunch to it. I think that personal preference on what is or is not a good version can vary, and personally ones with lots of olive oil turn me off.

    As far as another reason for taste aversion - if there is a dislike to olives and other pickled foods, I could see that taste turning off someone.

    1. I like well made dolmades. I dont not like mass produced supermarket dolmades.

      5 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          What Harters and sunshine842 said.

        2. re: Harters

          Unfortunately, I find dolmades to be one of the least reliable items to buy from "quality" markets or restaurants that specialize in Arabic food.

          1. re: Harters

            +1

            And where I come from, all the store bought ones are made wrong. They are vegetarian and only have rice, and are very slushy and taste like they have some kind of corn syrupy vinegar dressing on it like you'd find in some nasty deli salad.

            True dolmades in my family have MEAT in them, are a hearty and sturdy food with a nice lemony bite, not a squishy, mushy, vinegary mess, which is all I have found commercially.

            1. re: Harters

              +2. I grew up eating Middle Eastern grape leaves, so I would never eat dolmades unless they had lamb. My first plain, gritty rice dolma was an unpleasant surprise. Over time I've learned to appreciate good, well-seasoned vegetarian dolmades, but I still won't eat them if the rice isn't cooked properly or they are too greasy or poorly flavored.

            2. The person who introduced me to dolmades told me it would take me three tries to like them. The first time, I wouldn't know what to expect. The second time, I'd know what I was in for, so it wouldn't be so bad. By the third time, I would be craving more.
              She was right. But then, I like pickled foods, don't have 'textural' hangups, and am generally open-minded about new foods.
              Just think, if they won't eat them, it means more for you!

              1 Reply
              1. re: tacosandbeer

                Woah that's interesting! And yes I love not sharing, but I was beginning to wonder if I was cuckoo for liking dolmades.

              2. Almost every where gets their stuffed grapeleaves in a huge can. YUCK!! Slimy and lemony!! They do not have meat. I believe this is the norm for Greek cuisine.
                True Arabic (Syrian and Lebanese) stuffed grapeleaves (usually called "Wara Anib) are prepared with lamb and are fabulous and are served hot. I have never seen them canned.
                There are several NYC middle Eastern restaurants that make their own and they are fabulous. If you are in the area I will give you suggestions.\

                20 Replies
                1. re: Motosport

                  I don't feel like dolmades need to have meat in them to be "true". There is also a Greek main dish made of *warm* dolmades, which very often include meat, served over rice (kinda weird, I know) with a nice lemon cream sauce.

                  I was never a fan of dolma until I met my man, who makes the best dolma in the world. Armenian recipe, no meat. They're a PITA to make, but so, so worth it!

                  1. re: linguafood

                    I don't believe Greeks consider themselves Arabs since they are part of Europe. I've never found stuffed grapeleaves in a Greek restaurant that were served hot and had lamb.
                    Actually, I've never been in a Greek restaurant that made their own stuffed grapeleaves. They all seem to use those awful canned ones. there must be some places that roll their own but I have not found them. I've asked in several Greek place if they make their own. Most say "yes" but in a few places I've seen the big cans in the trash. Go figure?

                    1. re: Motosport

                      aren't dolmades (or whatever the applicable local word might be) pretty much made across a pretty wide swath of the world? If so (and I believe it is) -- then dolma made in Greece (or Turkey or Armenia or wherever) are no more or less "authentic" than dolma made anywhere else...and one person might make them differently than their neighbor -- so whose is more "right"?

                      I'm guessing that linguafood is referring to dolma that she had in a Greek restaurant...in Greece, because that's how she rolls.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        "True Arabic (Syrian and Lebanese) stuffed grapeleaves (usually called "Wara Anib) are prepared with lamb and are fabulous and are served hot." I never used the word "authentic".
                        Just as Greek, Turkish and Syrian "pita" bread are different so is the way the people of each country prepare their stuffed grapeleaves. Handmade and homemade are very good compared to the canned/preserved offerings. Yuck!

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Yes, sunshine would be right -- not only have I had warm (Greeks aren't really into the whole "piping hot thing", it seems) dolmades with meat filling at Greek restaurants in Greece, but I also know Greek home cooks who make both version.

                          The warm ones tend to be slightly larger and always include meat (lamb or beef), the cold ones served as appetizers are generally vegetarian, yes.

                        2. re: Motosport

                          "I've never found stuffed grapeleaves in a Greek restaurant that were served hot and had lamb"

                          Try some more places. Cold as an appetizer, hot for main course with ground lamb at the Athens Cafe, where I ate for maybe 30 years

                          1. re: Motosport

                            I don't know where you live, but I go to about 10 different huge Greek festivals a year here in Ohio, and they are all served hot and with meat, usually ground beef but sometimes ground lamb. No self-respecting Greek would serve canned dolmathes. there are a lot of nasty, cheap Greek diners and I'm sure they cut all kinds of corners, but in a real Greek's home, you get the warm, meat kind. At least in my area of the country you do.

                            1. re: rockandroller1

                              Or the homemade, meat-free, cold appetizer version :-)

                              1. re: rockandroller1

                                In Jerusalem Armenian and Palestinian restaurants, the hot grape leaves stuffed with meat are far more likely to be made fresh than the cold grape leaves stuffed with rice. In general, whether it's in a restaurant, store, boutique deli - there is an unfortunate range of awesome to dreadful.

                                I wonder if this is also the case in Greece where the range between purchased homemade ones and sold canned ones fits a range (both of price and quality). That being said, the worst grape leaves I've ever had were (what appeared to be) freshly made warm meat filled ones. That is one Armenian restaurant I am never going back to.

                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                  Ohio!!!! The swing state!!! Maybe I should move from Manhattan.
                                  If I remember correctly there is a large Lebanese/Syrian population in the Toledo area.

                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    We have a LOT of Lebanese all across NE Ohio. And thus great Lebanese food, which is awesome.

                              2. re: linguafood

                                I took a Greek cooking class from a Greek couple a few years ago and dolmades were amongst the creations. The version I make contains lamb (my personal preference) but as you say, making them is very worthwhile. My batches are large as they make wonderful leftovers. Sounds like a great project for next weekend.

                              3. re: Motosport

                                I found a lot of economical/moderate Greek restos and Greek diners in NYC serve the cold, usually slimy, canned vegetarian dolmades, but canned dolmades are not the norm for Greek cuisine in Greek American and Greek Canadian homes, as far as I know. Most Greek restaurants and Greek clubs in Toronto and Montreal serve restaurant-made cold and hot versions. I've always had the non-slimy, non-canned restaurant-made cold or hot versions at Greek restaurants in the Bay Area and in LA, as well.

                                The cold home-made version tends to be vegetarian, and the warm/hot home-made version tends to be meat & rice-filled, and topped with warm avgolemono (egg lemon) sauce. Typically, the cold vegetarian version is served as a starter or meze at the beginning of the meal, whereas the warm meat and rice version is often more of main dish, in my experience, which sounds like it's similar to linguafood's experience.

                                There are a lot of regional variations on the fillings. I like the pine-nut/raisin/dill/cumin/meat/rice version that tends to be more common in the Aegean islands.

                                Some Cretan versions use bulgur insted of rice.

                                Motosport, if you'd like to try the warm, avgolemono-sauced, meat (veal) and rice version, Pylos has them on its menu: http://www.pylosrestaurant.com/PYL_Di... Most meat-filled dolmades I've seen in North America have been made with beef or veal, rather than lamb.

                                1. re: prima

                                  I am putting Pylos on my list. Veal and raisins rings my bell!!!
                                  My go to Middle Eastern restaurants are Byblos and Al Bustan. In Brooklyn, Tripoli!!

                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    Good to know, hope to try Byblos and Al Bustan on another visit to NYC... and maybe even Tripoli!

                                2. re: Motosport

                                  This is not true -- Lebanese stuffed grape leaves can be vegetarian (and are excellent).

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Most good things can also be meatless but why?

                                    1. re: Motosport

                                      Because it's a traditional Lebanese dish? For thousands of years, meat was a special occasion food item throughout most of the Middle East, so many everyday recipes are vegetarian.

                                3. As an Armenian whose father was raised in Istanbul, my only exposure is to how my two sides of the family prepared these, and how they were served. Dolma was always hot, and always with meat. Yalanchi was always cold and vegetarian. I cannot speak as to how other countries in the area prepare grape leaves, but this was my exposure.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: andieb

                                    My only experience with them is Armenian friends who prepare and serve them just as your two sides of the family.

                                    1. re: andieb

                                      It's the same in Greece.
                                      Dolmades (or more commonly dolmadakia, meaning little dolma) are always hot and contain meat.
                                      The meatless version (dolmadakia yalantzi) is eaten as a main course during Lent, but when used as an appetiser, it is always cold.