Stuffed vine leaves, Istanbul-style

Stuffed vine leaves, Istanbul-style

By
From
Turquoise
Serves
6-8
Photographer
Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

There are numerous versions of stuffed vine leaves to be found all around the Middle East and Mediterranean. According to Claudia Roden in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, they were served at the court of King Khusrow II in Persia as early as the seventh century, subsequently spreading through the Muslim world and then the Ottoman Empire.

In Turkey, stuffed vegetables that are rolled, such as vine, cabbage or silverbeet leaves, are known as sarma. This version is especially popular in the summer, when it is served at room temperature as part of a mezze selection.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
750g preserved vine leaves
or 500g fresh vine leaves, washed
100ml olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 level teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 level teaspoon dried mint
1/4 cup currants
250g short-grain rice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
250ml * chicken stock [rid:9962]
1 vine-ripened tomato, grated
2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 lemon, sliced
200ml hot water
1 lemon, juiced

Method

  1. If using preserved vine leaves, soak them for 10 minutes, then rinse and pat dry. Fresh vine leaves should be blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds and refreshed in cold water.
  2. To make the filling, heat half the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Sauté the pine nuts for a few minutes over medium heat until golden brown. Add the onion and sauté until softened, then add the spices, dried mint, currants and rice and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and add half the chicken stock to the pan. Cook over a low heat, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining stock and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the stock has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated tomato and fresh herbs.
  3. Line the bottom of a heavy-based casserole dish with a few vine leaves and slices of lemon. Arrange the remaining leaves over a work surface, vein-side up, and cut away the stems. Place a spoonful of the filling across the base of the leaf. Roll it over once, then fold in the sides and continue to roll it into a neat sausage shape. The sarmas should be around the size of your little finger – don’t stuff them too tightly or they will burst during the cooking. Continue stuffing and rolling until all the filling has been used.
  4. Pack the stuffed vine leaves into the casserole dish, layering them with more lemon slices, then pour in the hot water, lemon juice and remaining oil. Place a small plate on top of the sarmas to keep them submerged in the liquid, then simmer gently, covered, for 30 minutes. Check whether the sarmas are ready – if there is still liquid, return the dish to the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes, then check again.
  5. Leave the sarmas to cool in the casserole dish. When ready to serve, turn them out onto a large platter.
Tags:
Turquoise
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Turkish
Turkey
Mediterranean
European
Middle Eastern
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