Back to traditional recipes today, with a favorite dish of many in Greece, stuffed vine leaves or dolmadakia. After the stuffed vine leaves with crabmeat and rice and a saffron sauce, I chose to make a more traditional recipe, so I filled the vine leaves with bulgur, tomato, onion and plenty of cumin. This is a recipe from the Dodecanese and specifically from Rhodes, but similar are found in Crete. In Greece there are numerous recipes of stuffed vine leaves. Gradually we will try some more.
This particular recipe I found in Diana Kohyllas’ book, “The Taste of Greece”. Something very interesting written in the book is that in Kalymnos (which I have not yet visited) and possibly in other islands of the Dodecanese as well, vine leaves are dried by passing them into a thread like hoop and leaving them hung for a few weeks to dry out completely. They are very fragile after, but when soaked they regain their juices and are again fragrant and delicious.
Another very interesting information that I had not heard, is that in Rhodes and Nisyros leaves of cyclamen are used for dolmades, instead of vine leaves (and their bulbs are made a sweet preserve!).
Do not forget to read here all the valuable beneficial properties of vine leaves, as well as information on their conservation and instructions on how to roll them. Those that I used I had bought fresh and after boiling them, I kept them in the freezer. You can use vine leaves in brine, as well.
- • 300 g. vine leaves
- • 220 g. wheat bulgur
- • 700 g. onions, chopped
- • 850 g. ripe tomatoes, grated
- • 125 ml olive oil (+ 3-4 tablespoons extra for cooking)
- • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- • about 1 cup chopped fresh dill
- • about ½ cup chopped fresh spearmint
- • juice of 1 large lemon
- • salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Mix bulgur, onions, tomatoes, and oil in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper and cumin and stir well. Cover and let the bulgur rise for about 2 hours. After rising, add the spearmint and dill.
- Meanwhile, if using fresh leaves or vine leaves in brine, wash them and put them in a large saucepan with boiling water ( separately, if necessary) for 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water. Pick the very small or torn leaves and put aside.
- Wrap the vine leaves putting a teaspoon of filling on each one.
- Lay the bottom of the pan with the small or torn leaves you have kept aside and place the stuffed vine leaves in the pan, in layers.
- Pour the lemon juice, the remaining olive oil and add as much water as needed to barely cover the dolmadakia.
- Place over an overturned plate to hold on to their position while boiling and cover the pot.
- Simmer until the leaves are softened, for about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
- Dolmadakia are ideally served with Greek strained yogurt