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Suvir Saran

Stuffed Grape Leaves

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Lebanese?

Armenian?

Greek?

What makes them better?

Do you like them with meat or without?

Where do you get your favorite ones?

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Warm ones, filled with lamb and rice, long and thin, with a lemony sauce.  I get them at a Syrian place on Atlantic Avenue - they are the best of this type I've had in a long while.

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Greek dolmades, with a rice/feta mixture, served with a greek salad.

Turkish and Lebanese ones are basically the same, are they not?

No not really.  Greek dolmadas and Turkish sarmas are quite similar. A thing to note is that greeks also use cabbage leaves, fig leaves instead of grape.


anil

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Of course the one thing that makes them better is using fresh leaves vs. preserved. Other than that, I like the stuffing to be lamb/rice/pine nuts with cinnamon/cardamom/coriander. The lemon/mint variant is also very nice. I must say I've never heard of dolmas with feta, maybe I'll try that...


M

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Orik.. I have never had them with the spices you mention.  Where do you find these?  

Do you make them?

I bought a grape vine Saturday, so I can at least have fresh leaves to make grape leaves.

I spent the night chatting with an Arab friend about his stuffed grape leaves experiences around the Middle East; he says they are mostly the same.  The Syrian recipe is used mostly all over the Arab world and then there is the Turkish recipe.  They are both very similar.  He said only the Greek make them too greasy and different.  The other states make them very similar, with mild regional differences.

Some line the pan with just grape leaves at the bottom; some put a flattened piece of shoulder meat from lamb to act as lining between the stuffed leaves and the container.  Others will use sliced potatoes to give that layer of protection.  

The Lebanese may or may not add raisins and pine nuts.  The Syrians and Turks are known to add chickpeas when making vegetarian.  Some use pomegranate syrup or tamarind to add the sourness instead of lemon juice.  

Syria is I am told the place where most of the Middle Eastern chefs come from, or find places to go train at.

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Alas, I never had access to fresh leaves when I made them, so I used the ones in brine in glass jars. I think I had to blanch them to remove all traces of the salt.

I used a ground lamb, onion, dill filling. The texture of a meat filling is so much better than that of rice, which so often goes all pasty/mushy. And I think rice-filled leaves absolutely need a sauce to give them flavor, whereas meat ones already have plenty of flavor.

But then, I haven't been to any of the Middle-Eastern restaurants in Brooklyn in a long, long time -- and the stuffed grape leaves in my local Greek restaurant are probably out of a can. :hmmm: So it's probably time I tried to find some good ones again.

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Alas, I never had access to fresh leaves when I made them, so I used the ones in brine in glass jars.  I think I had to blanch them to remove all traces of the salt.

I used a ground lamb, onion, dill filling.  The texture of a meat filling is so much better than that of rice, which so often goes all pasty/mushy.  And I think rice-filled leaves absolutely need a sauce to give them flavor, whereas meat ones already have plenty of flavor. 

But then, I haven't been to any of the Middle-Eastern restaurants in Brooklyn in a long, long time -- and the stuffed grape leaves in my local Greek restaurant are probably out of a can.  :hmmm:  So it's probably time I tried to find some good ones again.

If you continue to be the Sweetheart you are... Maybe I will share some of the grape leaves my friend Mary Ann makes.... They are made with rice and onions and nuts and raisins and dill.. and have always been my favorite... At my surprise birthday party on Monday, she brought 30 of them for me.. in a beautiful platter that I have added to my collection.. But the stuffed leaves are amazing and Michael and Arianne Batterberry who have an Armenian friend that prepares a similar recipe and have always loved it as being the best, ended up thinking Mary Ann's were simply the best stuffed grape leaves they had ever had as well. Addictive and delicious, it took me no more than a few minutes to eat up the remainder of the 28 stuffed leaves. :shock:

She uses fresh when she can find some in Brooklyn. But at other times she has used brine cured ones which she washes several times in a collander with running cold water. She prefers the Orlando brand of leaves. I now have a grape vine in the deck.. and while we have not used too many, maybe by next summer we would not need any store bought leaves at all.

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What kind of grape leaves are used by members when making stuffed grape leaves?

How about non-Grape leaves?? I just bought a Turkish cookbook and it has a recipe for dolmas made with leek leaves instead of grape. The filling appears to be pretty much of the standard ground lamb variety. I'm psyched to try it, because the grape leaves have always been my least favorite part of dolmas.


Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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What kind of grape leaves are used by members when making stuffed grape leaves?

How about non-Grape leaves?? I just bought a Turkish cookbook and it has a recipe for dolmas made with leek leaves instead of grape. The filling appears to be pretty much of the standard ground lamb variety. I'm psyched to try it, because the grape leaves have always been my least favorite part of dolmas.

What do I know :hmmm: This past weekend we were in IST, and in a local pedeci (sp ?) I asked this lady what she was using - Her reply - Whatever is the leaf of the season - {meaning sometimes cabbage leaves ....} Much of the fillings are also iff-ify - standard broken rice or wheat grain mixed with {meats or fish}

The operant word is - edible,cookable leaf.

PS: In many traditional eateries when you ask about the stuff, the cook is soooo elated about our interest in the mechanics of putting together the dish - that she / {sometimes he} add something extra in our plates :biggrin:


anil

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What kind of grape leaves are used by members when making stuffed grape leaves?

How about non-Grape leaves?? I just bought a Turkish cookbook and it has a recipe for dolmas made with leek leaves instead of grape. The filling appears to be pretty much of the standard ground lamb variety. I'm psyched to try it, because the grape leaves have always been my least favorite part of dolmas.

Well a Syrian friend makes Dolmas stuffing zucchinis. :shock:

And he swears that he is not alone in preparing Dolmas from different leaves and vegetables.

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I believe the word "dolma" just means stuffed, or some variation thereof.

Anyway, I love the stuffed grape leaves (the warm, meat-filled kind, with lemon sauce) at Waterfalls Cafe on Atlantic Ave. They're Syrian.


Edited by La Niña (log)

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Anyway, I love the stuffed grape leaves (the warm, meat-filled kind, with lemon sauce) at Waterfalls Cafe on Atlantic Ave.  They're Syrian.

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The best stuffed leaves, yebrah, or cigars as we call them are the ones I make. My Syrian grandmother's recipe. I use mulberry leaves which are better than grape and use a mixture of rice and meat and mixed spices, Syrian style. Fantastic!

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What kind of grape leaves are used by members when making stuffed grape leaves?

A very good question.

It is like diregarding the Pita in the Falafel.

Personally I never paid attention to the types of vine leaves exept that they should be fresh, elastic and with a minimum of vains [ easier to roll ].

To store the fresh leaves in season, simply semi-cook the leaves. pack them well in batches and freeze.

My Lebanese aunt is known to be the best there is but My own grandmother, makes the best I can get in Israel. Well she practiced for over 60 years...

Enjoying,

Andre


Andre Suidan

I was taught to finish what I order.

Life taught me to order what I enjoy.

The art of living taught me to take my time and enjoy.

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about 10 years ago I did research on the stuffing of leafy greens in the Mediterranean. Here are some of my findings: The list included the leaves of quince, mulberry, green bean,fava bean, beet, hazelnut, cherry, grape or vine, chard, collard, mallow, fig, sorrel, and even the stinging nettle! (You rub the fresh leaves with coarse salt and wash under running water wearing rubber gloves to remove the sting)

The grain of choice despends upon the region: rice in France, Cy;prus, Spain, Greece, and the Middle East; corn around the Black sea; bulgur in southeastern Turkey; cracked shelled wheat in central Turkey. Sometimes too a combination of rice with bugur or green wheat is used---one of my favorites. You can get green wheat called frika at a middle eastern grocery.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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about 10 years ago I did research on the stuffing of leafy greens in the Mediterranean.  Here are some of my findings: The list included the leaves of quince, mulberry, green bean,fava bean, beet, hazelnut, cherry, grape or vine, chard, collard, mallow, fig, sorrel, and even the stinging nettle! (You rub the fresh leaves with coarse salt and wash under running water wearing rubber gloves to remove the sting)

The grain of choice despends upon the region: rice in France, Cy;prus, Spain, Greece, and the Middle East; corn around the Black sea; bulgur in southeastern Turkey; cracked shelled wheat in central Turkey. Sometimes too a combination of rice with bugur or green wheat is used---one of my favorites. You can get green wheat called frika at a middle eastern grocery.

Thanks for this education. Like in your books, you bring such simple clarity to what many could find tedious to share and understand.

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about 10 years ago I did research on the stuffing of leafy greens in the Mediterranean.  Here are some of my findings: The list included the leaves of quince, mulberry, green bean,fava bean, beet, hazelnut, cherry, grape or vine, chard, collard, mallow, fig, sorrel, and even the stinging nettle! (You rub the fresh leaves with coarse salt and wash under running water wearing rubber gloves to remove the sting)

The grain of choice despends upon the region: rice in France, Cy;prus, Spain, Greece, and the Middle East; corn around the Black sea; bulgur in southeastern Turkey; cracked shelled wheat in central Turkey. Sometimes too a combination of rice with bugur or green wheat is used---one of my favorites. You can get green wheat called frika at a middle eastern grocery.

Awesome!...so very nice of you give us the benefit of your expertise. :smile: I am truly grateful.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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Deleted because I just realized I mis-read something.


Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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i'd say the best dolmas i've had were armenian. i am biased though, cause my grandma made them. I know whatever leaves she used were from the garden outside (they may have even been growing up the side of the building), and they were stuffed with rice, beef (because my grandpa and dad don't like lamb), spices, etc. they are sublime though. she makes the little ones, larger ones, and even uses zucchini instead of leaves.


"yes i'm all lit up again"

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I think that one's taste is often influenced by the first time they had a dish. My first dolma was from a little Armenian place a few blocks off the UT campus. They were simple. Served chilled they had simply rice and herbs. They came with a lemony sauce.

To this day I'm always dissapointed in dolmas if they have raisons, pine nuts or other "adulterations". I'll eat them warm with meat but to me thats just a whole 'nother dish.

I make mine with preserved grape leaves (I adore the brine). I add a lot of lemon juice to the rice, and usually some combo of parsley, dill, rosemary, whatever herb I have on hand etc. I add finely chopped onions sometimes. I also dont tend to wash the leaves of the brine, but then I just love salty sour stuff.

My favorite sauce is a yogurt-garlic-tahini-lemon combo thing, but in general I don't bother with a sauce. I honestly have a hard time finding good dolmas that are not made in my house. I will admit that I've almost given up trying. It seems that all of the restaurants that I've found use the canned (just kill me please) version. Delis too. What gives? These dolmas are revolting, they are covered in some rancid olive oil that departs a bitter taste, and the rice is just mush. Its horrid and I'm scarred for life. One local place that does make their own is Central Market. Bless them, bless them, bless them. They have such a nice variety. I am new to this city and I hear that they have some really good Middle Eastern restaurants, so perhaps I'll get brave and try their dolmas......

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Hmm they might be made by TT. All I know is they are fresh, not canned and they are pretty good. I got some at whole foods once from the deli. Canned, for god's sake. :wacko:

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