Dolma (or Tolma in Armenian) is a culinary tradition that is at home throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and indispensable in some countries. Armenia is one of those countries. The delicious Tolma, prepared by mum or grandma, takes all Armenians, no matter where they are, back to Armenia in one bite. Since every family adds a “secret” note or two to the recipe, the family recipe notebook is, of course, carefully kept and passed on like a treasure map, so that in the future the offspring will also taste like a piece of home away from home with a treasure trove of traditional Armenian recipes, like the Tolma recipe!
For the dolmas
- 400 g minced meat (mixed lamb & pork)
- 100 g risotto rice
- 200 g pickled grape leaves
- 1 onion
- 50 – 100 g butter
- Fresh herbs (parsley, dill)
- Paprika, rose hot, ground
- Salt and pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- Some lukewarm water
For the dip
- 500 g natural yoghurt (rather firm consistency)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp oil
- A few pomegranate seeds
- Salt & pepper
- Leave the pickled grape leaves in a container of cold water for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, wash the rice and then mix well with the minced meat.
- Chop the onion, parsley and dill into very small pieces and add to the rice and mince mixture, mix well.
- Season with salt, pepper and paprika and mix well again. Note: add little salt, as the pickled grape leaves are already salty.
- Add a little lukewarm water to the mixture and mix until you have a loose mixture.
- Put a heaped teaspoon of the minced rice mixture on the outside of each grape leaf (take 2 if the grape leaves are very small or cracked) and roll the whole thing up from the stem to the end of the leaf.
- Line a large pot with some grape leaves to prevent the dolmas from burning, and now place the dolmas one by one in the pot and stack them. Finally, add the two bay leaves.
- Fill the pot with cold water so that the dolmas are just covered.
- Place a plate on top of the dolmas, bottom side up (this prevents the dolmas from curling up).
- Cook on medium heat with the lid closed for 40 – 50 minutes.
- Now remove the lid, put the butter on the dolmas, close the lid again and simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Put the natural yoghurt in a bowl.
- Finely chop the garlic and dill and add.
- Add the oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Garnish with a few pomegranate seeds. Serve the dolmas hot, adding the dip in a small bowl.
Recipe: Lena Harutunian