Written and photographed by Tamar Weir
Persian Dolme – Stuffed grape leaves. Safta Batia Dolme recipe.
I asked my mother for this recipe because this flavorful dish was always a staple in my childhood and brought me closer to the cooking process and culture of my family.
This recipe comes from my Persian grandmother who had such a great passion for cooking and providing love and nutrients to her loved ones from food.
The following is a quote from my mom:
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview my mom a few years before she experienced her stroke. This is one of my favorite dishes that my mom prepared with love. Of course, there are so many others.
I can tell you that my mom’s dolme is the best in the world and I am not just saying it… when you taste the complexity, the texture, you will see what I mean.
Her dolme has a sweet, sour and salty flavor and it takes forever to make, but my mom prepared it with love. Every parsley leaf was picked from its stem, leaf by leaf, with no rush, but total concentration with the process. I often complain about what my mom did not do for us, but when I try to roll those grape leaves, I have a total appreciation for my mom and all the time and energy she invested into feeding us five kids, plus our father who appreciated her food, and would only go out on a special occasion.”
3 cups of rice
Grape leaves (buy them ready in a jar or pick fresh leaves from the garden. If not
young leaves will not taste good)
Mint leaves and parsley (chop small, enough to give taste and color)
½ cup of canola oil
Salt and pepper to your taste
1/2 tablespoon of tumeric
½ tablespoon of paprika
A little hot spicy pepper
A box of raisins
Apricot jam (you can substitute with another fruit jam or any sweet liquid jam)
1 white onion
½ cup of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of pomegranate sauce
You boil the rice with extra water to cover the rice and cook ¼ of the way so it needs to be
half hard, al dente. Strain. Add the mint, oil, and spices.
Chop small cubes of ¾ white onion and fry a little bit. Then add it to the rice.
Add jam and the whole box of raisins, lemon juice and pomegranate sauce.
Mix it all up.
In a big pot, arrange 2 layers of onion in a ring shape, either fried or not.
After stuffing the grape leaves, arrange in a circular way.
In between the layers add dried apricot, dried prune, red beets, or any dried fruit.
When the pot is full, take the rest of the leaves and cover the top layer.
The liquid to pour over the stuffed leaves:
In a bowl, mix olive oil, water, lemon juice, pomegranate juice and jam, and pour over the
On a medium flame cook for a while (about half an hour) and then rest in the
oven at 350 for a few hours. Make sure you still have liquid, otherwise it will be too
tired if you over cook.
How to stuff the leaves:
Place the leaf on a plate with the shiny side down and the veins facing you. Remove
the stem and than add a tablespoonful of the mixture in the lower part – the wider portion of the leaf and then fold the area that is the closest to you, then fold the right and left side inward and start rolling away from you as your dolme starts to become rolled.
Important note:Try not to get too discouraged, rolling in a tight manner is quite hard and takes a lot of practice. So if you are a beginner, your dolmes might not look too pretty, but practice will create tighter and easier to eat treats. And in any case, if they are made with love, the flavor is guaranteed.