Thursday, December 12, 2013

525. Iraqi Dolma

Much like kleicha, dolma is another Iraqi family/social affair to make. Gather your family, close friends, and neighbors, and start making dolma!

It's not that it's difficult; its just time consuming. The vegetables need prep of various kinds (hollowing and blanching of the onion), the stuffing needs to be made, then the vegetables need to be stuffed and arranged in the pot. Possibly the most time consuming might be rolling up the vine leaves.
So what makes Iraqi dolma (دولمة عراقية) different from other stuffed vegetables of the Arabian region? Any connaisseur would swoon and tell you it's the tanginess in flavor and the redness of the sauce.
The vegetables are really dependent on the region and season. Even cucumbers are stuffed in a Baghdadi dolma! Silverbeet leaves may be blanched and rolled up instead of vineleaves too.
The tanginess may be achieved through different means: either lemon juice, or pomegranate molasses, or tamarind paste, or sumac. Long story short: there are as many minor variations of a dolma as there are families who make it, so the idea is to make it yours, and using what is available to you.
Since the dolma pot is large and takes a while on the stove, I always line the bottom of the pot with thick potato slices, so if anything will burn (very likely), it will be the potatoes, which I can easily throw away.


3 large potatoes, scrubbed
1.5kg fatty lamb rack
5 large white or yellow onions
6-8 baby aubergines
6-8 lebanese courgettes
6 medium tomatoes
1x450g (net) jar drained vine leaves
1.5 kg minced meat
1 1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped dill
1 cup chopped mint
3 cups rice
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp 7-spice
1/2 tsp citric acid powder(optional)
4 bouillon cubes
2 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 cup vinegar


Stage I: Prepare the vegetables and the stuffing:
Prepare the vegetables:
- drain, rinse, and separate the vineleaves
- cut the onions only halfway to the core, from head to root. Boil for 20 minutes then let cool. Separate the onion layers.
- core the baby aubergines, courgettes, and tomato
To make the filling simply mix in a large bowl the minced meat, rice, chopped parsley, dill, mint, tomato paste, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, 7-spice, citric acid powder (if using), and the cored parts of the aubergines, courgettes, and tomato thoroughly together.

Stage II: Stuff the vegetables and arrange the pot.
Cut the rack into separate chops, season with some salt and pepper, and fry in a large pot until browned on both sides but not cooked through.
Set the meat aside and (off-heat) thickly slice the potatoes and place them in a single layer on the bottom of a medium pot. Return the chops over the potatoes, with their drippings, in single lager.
Fill the onion layers, roll up, and arrange on top of the chops.
Fill the cored aubergines, courgettes, and tomatoes and arrange on top of the vineleaves.
Fill vineleaves with a heaping teaspoon of the filling, fold the sides, then roll up.
Arrange the vinesleaves over the vegetables.

Stage III: Make the sauce and cook.
Place a heavy plate upside down over the dolma.
Whisk the bouillon cubes in the hot water and vinegar until dissolved
Pour the hot stock over them and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce to a simmer and let cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Remove from heat and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting on the serving dish.
I like to place a disc of bread before inverting to absorb the liquids.
Remove and discard any burnt potato, and serve steaming hot.

صحة و عافية


Anonymous said...

Maaaan, i'm so hungry right now!
Reminds me of my mothers *Rumadi* Dolma YUM, but we don't add dill or mint and only salt and black pepper to season
so is with the famous Maslawi Dolma
3ashat alayadi

Maryam Mohammed said...

Dolma does have that effect on people :)
3ashat ayamich my sister, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I love dolma as my Mum used to make it. I just wondered if there is something else to use other than 7 spice. I don't know what this is and the shops where I live don't seem to sell it.

Many thanks

Maryam Mohammed said...

Hi! No problem, you can replace it with some cinnamon and allspice, with a dash of nutmeg or cloves. I hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

thank you.

Anonymous said...

i really appreciate your recipes thanx for sharing

Maryam Mohammed said...

My pleasure.

Maryam Mohammed said...

You're welcome.

Denise Ahmad said...

Salam alaikum sister, I don't know if you will get this today or not before I start making dolma for a dinner party we are having but if I do the sumac for the dolma should I still put the lemon juice? Thanks

Maryam Mohammed said...

Wa alaikum al Salam sister, if you put sumac it might be wise to slightly decease the amount of lemon juice so as to not make it too sour, although a lot of people love the sour factor in a dolma. I hope this helps and tislam al ayadi!

assel said...

سلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
يا اختي العراقيه حبيت اقول لك إنه كلش فرحانه بصفحتك و كثير ساعدتيني
الله يخليك و كل الموفقيه

Maryam Mohammed said...

و عليكم السلام و رحمة الله و بركاته، جزاك الله خير لطيب كلامك . أالحمدلله الذي مكني على تعبير علم نافعا لمسلم و حياج الله أختي.

Lauren Al-Aqeedi said...

I'm wondering about Making this in a slow cooker. What are your thoughts on this, and what setting/time would you recommend for executing the recipe that way?

Maryam Mohammed said...

Lauren, that's a genius idea. I will have to try it insha Allah.
Immediately a couple of adaptations come to mind:
- potato slices lining the bottom of the slow cooker pot are a must in case of scorching (it's better to throw away the potato slices rather than lamb ribs or stuffed vegetables).
- meat cooked in the crockpot is amazing in that it melts in the mouth, but to add flavor I would sear it first then add them over the potato.
- I would proceed with the rest of the recipe exactly the same BUT a slow cooker does not need as much liquid as a conventional pot would need so I would definitely reduce the amount by half (but the spices and seasonings remain the same)
- I imagine 3 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low would be sufficient.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is finding the correct amount of liquid to put. Too little, it'll burn. Too much it'll be soupy.
Don't forget to top it all with a plate to weigh the lot down so they won't come undone.
I'd love to hear from you how it worked out!

Anonymous said...

can i make this without the lamb? (vegetarian)
do you have any modifications if i make it without lamb?

thank you

Anonymous said...

how big is your pot?

Maryam Mohammed said...

Certainly, there are many vegetarian versions of dolma around.

Maryam Mohammed said...

About 30cm diameter, maybe a touch bigger.

Unknown said...

Maryam, I lived in Erbil for 6 months a few years ago. I fell in love with dolma. Since I left, the only dolma I could find was grape leaves and most of the time it is served cold and doesn't taste very good. I decided to try making it and found your recipe. I made it for new years eve and itbwas amazing! Dolma exactly like I remember. Thank you, supas, shukran!

Maryam Mohammed said...

That's wonderful; afwan :)