My mother made this super delicious and seasonal dish last night. Food is so much more than what it seems, or rather what our hectic modern schedules have reduced it to. It is culture, history, and also medicine.
Stuffed grape leaves have been part of Albanian cuisine for a long time. Hard to say if they were introduced during the Ottoman invasion or rather naturally adopted across borders.
Because the texture of grape leaves should be particular, late spring is the only time of the year when picking leaves from your own vine, or your neighbor’s (make sure you ask first :)), can be possible.
From an Ayurveda perspective, the combination of flavors and ingredients is very well balanced in this recipe. The astringency of grape leaves, the earthiness of rice and the lightness of mint make this recipe quite tasty too.
Organic Grape leaves (seasonal)
Organic brown rice
Throughout the process, from gathering the leaves from the vine and stacking them on top of each other to boiling and wrapping, they should be placed with the shiny part down and the rougher one on top
My mama prefers uncle Ben’s brown rice as other brands become too mushy
Cut the hard stems from leaves before boiling
Put leaves in boiling water (no salt) until they change color
Place in colander
6 bunches of scallions cut in small pieces
Stir in olive oil until tender
Add the rice and stir for a 1 min
Add the spinach + mint (to taste)
Stir all ingredients for 1-2 min
Remove from heat
Place leaves on a flat surface (shiny face down)
Put rice mixture next to the stem part
Fold the 2 sides until the mixture feels snug
Then roll the leaf
Place a few leaves on the bottom of the pressure cooker so to protect from burning
Place the dolmas very close to one another so they don’t open during the cooking time
Depending on how many leaves you have you can have up to two layers of dolmas in the pressure cooker but no more than two
Cover the dolmas with few other leaves
Add water up to 1inch above the dolmas
Now comes mama violas trick, in order to preserve the integrity of the dolmas, aka the rice from exploding allowed the cooker, my Mama puts a pan cover on top of the dolmas
Cook in medium to high fire until the cooker stops hissing that means the water has evaporated
PS. Did you find this recipe helpful? Leave a comment. Or a thumb. Up please, always up (smile)
© Mama Viola’s Kitchen