Dolmas, from the Turkish verb “to stuff”, are a culinary legacy of the Ottoman Empire. Dolmas can either be vegetarian or stuffed with meat, served hot or cold, and alongside a variety of sauces.
You’ll find a number of variations in the countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire, like my husband’s native country of Albania. It’s no surprise that lamb dolmas are my husband’s all-time favorite snack! He can eat a giant batch by himself in an astonishingly small amount of time.
I serve these with a garlicky yogurt sauce or with a simple squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of my best extra-virgin olive oil.
Want to make a meze-style dinner for your family or friends? Let me help you! Check out my suggestions below and choose your own adventure.
1. Grilled Halloumi with Strawberry Salsa
2. Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
3. Whole Roasted Romanesco with Lemon Curry Yogurt Sauce
4. Roasted Beetroot Hummus
5. Fresh Herb and Habanero Labneh
6. Yogurt Dip with Fresh Herbs
7. Halloumi and Watermelon Salad with Mint and Cilantro Pesto
8. Albanian Qofte (Pan-Fried Meatballs)
9. Whipped Feta with Roasted Tomatoes and Honey
10. Tirokafteri (Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip)
Dolmas with Meat
- 1 large pot
- 1 large saucepan
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 paring knife
- 1 large Dutch oven
- 1 heavy plate to hold down the dolmas
- 16 oz jar grape leaves see notes
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb ground lamb or beef
- ½ cup white basmati rice uncooked
- ¼ cup dried currants
- 1 lemon juiced
- ¼ cup Italian parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh dill chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh mint chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock or water
- In a large pot, add enough water to cover the grape leaves, and bring to a boil. Add grape leaves and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse well, pat to dry, and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until onion is translucent. Add the uncooked rice and pine nuts, sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add ground lamb, dried currants, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and boiling water; cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from heat; stir in mint, parsley, and dill. Allow to cool for 1 hour, covered.
- Take a paring knife and cut off the stems of each grape leaf. Place a leaf right side up on a cutting boarding. Add 1 tbsp of filling in a horizontal line in the middle of the leaf. Fold in the ends of the leaf and roll upwards into tight little cigars. Repeat until you run out of the filling.
- Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a Dutch oven. Line the bottom of the pot with extra grape leaves. Place the rolled dolmas close together in a layer on top of the grape leaves. Make another layer if necessary, depending on how big of a batch you’re making.
- Pour the remaining ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil over the dolmas. This step will help them not stick together while cooking. Place a plate over-top of the dolmas to weigh them down and keep them in place. Cover, and cook on very low heat for 1 hour.
- Serve either hot or cold with a lemon or cool yogurt sauce.