Stuffed Vine Leaves

(Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarma)

The preparation of this dish would take longer than 2 hours. But, if there are wine leaves that can be collected in the area, it can be a great collaborative cooking experience. If there are no vine leaves, we can also stuff various vegetables like paprika, aubergine, zuccini and tomato. I can bring the three special ingredients: pine nuts, dried currant and yenibahar spice.

Ingredients for 1 glass of rice (for 4 people):
2-3 medium onions
Almost 1 glass of olive oil
50 gr. Pine nuts
50 gr. dried currant
1 sugar-spoon of yenibahar (this is a mixed spice that you can buy from Turkish shop)
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of dry oregano
½ teaspoon of dry peppermint
500 gr. of vine leaves (or 500 gr. small size paprika to fill in)
3 teaspoons of sugar
1 glass of rice
(If you fill in paprika you also need 2 tomatoes to slice and make caps for the paprika.)

Instructions

Preparing the filling:
Put the olive oil in a pot on medium heat cooker plate. Add the onions (chopped small) and the pine nuts. Mix these a bit for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the rice and mix them only for a few times. Add the currant (washed), yenibahar, salt, sugar, oregano, peppermint and mix again for a few times only. Turn off the heat. Put a cap on the pot. This has to wait until it cools down a bit.

Preparing the vine leaves:
If the leaves are fresh. Boil a large pot of hot water. Then dip the leaves for 1-2 minutes in hot water, then take out. They will change their color and get softer. It is better not to put all of them in water in once. Better to use the wide spoon with holes and put small portions, make upside down and then take out.

(Or, if they are conserved leaves, then wash them 3-4 times with clean warm water. The salt has to go away.)

Rolling:
Then take the cooled filling that you prepared and start rolling. I usually roll it on table. What you need to be care for is that the shiny side of the leaves should be facing out. The filling should go in the back-side of the leaf. Here is a video for the rolling part. As you prepare the rolls, you also arrange them a pot. I use a deep pot (like pasta pot). The bottom of the pot has to be flat. You need to fit the rolls quite tight. First make a ground-floor of tight rolls, then go on with the second layer, and so on.

Cooking:
When you are done, add 1,5 glass of water in the pot. Then, put a porcelain plate upside down inside the pot and cover the rolls. This plate should make some pressure on the rolls so they don’t come up and open up. Then you have to also close the cap of the pot. It is ready! You will cook this for 30 minutes on medium fire. But, this time changes according to type of rice etc. Better to taste it after 30 mins and see if the rice is cooked.

When serving, we usually add some lemon slices. Also, we mix a little bit of olive oil with fresh lemon juice and pour it on the rolls.

Afiyet Olsun!