Dolmades, also known as stuffed grape leaves, are an extremely delectable Middle Eastern appetizer. These soul-satisfying, succulent roulades are a delicate way to start your meal; traditionally accompanied with different sauces including tahini, avgolemono (lemon-egg) or garlic-yogurt sauce.
- Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
- Filling for Dolmades: In a bowl, combine rice, meat, onion, herbs, celery, salt and pepper. Fold in the tomato puree.
- Once the mixture is ready, it is time to start stuffing the vine leaves. To do this, place one vine leaf on a plate, vein side up.
- Take a heaped teaspoon of the filling and place it in the centre of the leaf near the stem edge. Fold the stem end up over the filling then fold both sides towards the middle and roll up like a small cigar. Don’t roll too tightly as the rice will expand.
- Line the bottom of a large ovenproof dish with a layer of tomato slices or leftover vine leaves. This will prevent the stuffed leaves from sticking to the bottom and burning.
- Pack the stuffed leaves in layers on top, putting small pieces of garlic between them. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add around 150 ml (5¼floz) of cold water.
- Cover with oiled foil. Place the leaves in oven for 45 minutes, adding extra water if necessary. Serve hot.
- 120 gm (4¼oz) Laila basmati rice (cooked)
- 250 gm (8¾oz) lamb (minced)
- 1 tsp oregano (dried)
- 1 small onion (finely chopped)
- 3 tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
- 3 tbsp celery (finely chopped)
- Salt (to taste) and black pepper (freshly ground)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 250 gm (8¾oz) preserved, drained vine leaves
- 2 tomatoes (sliced)
- 2 cloves garlic (sliced)
- 1 lemon juice