My sources report that dolma is Arabic for "something stuffed". A dolma (plural dolmades) consists of a savoury, well-seasoned filling wrapped in a casing of fruit or vegetables (not pastry, though: those are known as pites). The casing could be squash, eggplant, sweet pepper, cabbage leaves, quinces or apples, but grape leaves (vine leaves) are perhaps the most familiar wrapping item. Greek dolmades are often vegetarian, filled with rice, pine nuts, raisins, and herbs, though ground lamb may be added as well. This recipe is for Greek stuffed vine leaf dolmades; see dolmades for an alternate recipe that's all meat baby!
You will need:
What to do:
First, prepare the grape leaves. (If you have grapevines in your garden, consider yourself lucky; pluck large unblemished leaves, wash, blanch by plunging into boiling water for 1 minute, then removing to ice water. Drain and dry the leaves, and they are ready to be filled.) Otherwise, buy grape leaves packed in brine in a jar. These too need to be soaked briefly to remove some of the brine flavour. Pour boiling water over the leaves, let sit for 30 seconds, then drain well.
Then, prepare the filling. Saute the garlic and onion in a little of the olive oil. (If you are using lamb, add it here and brown it well.) When the onion is softened, add the rice and pine nuts, toss to coat with oil, then remove from heat and add raisins, dill or cumin seeds, oregano, mint, parsley, and salt and pepper; toss mix well.
Line the bottom of a Dutch oven with any broken or thick grape leaves; this will stop the rolls from sticking to the bottom.
Place a leaf on a cutting board, shiny side down, dull side up, with the stem facing you. Place a heaped teaspoon of filling on the leaf near the bottom. Fold the stem end up over the filling from the bottom, then fold the leaf over from each side and roll up into a small package. It should be snug enough to remain rolled after it's cooked, but not so tightly rolled that it will break apart when the rice expands while cooking. Keep rolling till all the grape leaves are used. It takes quite a while, so be patient.
Layer the dolmades seam-side down in the Dutch oven. Add enough water over to just cover the dolmades, and pour the lemon juice and remainder of the olive oil over as well. Weigh down the dolmades with an inverted plate; this will stop them from opening as they cook.
Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Serve hot or cold, with tzatziki or plain.