One of the classics of the Turkish cuisine are no doubt "Dolma" which is loved in every way possible. "Dolma" is also owned by the Greek, but if we look into the etymology of the word I can state that the word "Dolma" comes from Turkish origin. Actually "Dolma" means "to stuff" and the word for "to wrap" or "to roll" is "Sarma". I personally use the word sarma for rolls ans dolma for stuffed vegetables. There must have been some cross cultural influence concerning this dish we cannot be certain for the origin, but one thing is obvious that it is loved by many.
It is done with grape leaves as many know, from kale, sour cherry, chard, dock weed and even mulberry leaves. The directions below are for the most preferred which are grape leaves, but it can be applied to almost any kind as long as the leaves are of appropriate size. If not the leaves can be cut to sizes not larger than your hand. But when it comes to preparing this fabulous dish many run away from this task. Do not hesitate roll up your sleeves and dive into wrapping you will see it is worth all the effort. If you still say that you don't have it in you here is all the help you need. Observe the pictures that's all!
- First prepare your leaves of choice. Feel the softness of the leaf and see if it is soft enough to wrap. If not boil the leaves in hot water. Check that the leaves do not go too soft and that they don't get torn up while wrapping.
- Lay the leaf on a flat surface, be careful so that there are no creases.
- Lay a desert spoonful of filling onto the leaf towards the center, avoiding the gap. The filling should be linear not in the shape of a ball.
- First fold one upper side of the leaf over, then the other side, and then fold the left and right sides over, as in the picture. The point here is to wrap as thin and long as possible.
- While doing the first roll keep the folds tight and closed. It's that simple.
- Click on the pictures to see up close.
If you have observed the pictures and still have questions, here are some more tips:
- If the leaves (grape leaves) are fresh you should boil them for 1 or 2 hours according to how soft the leaves are.
- If the leaves are brined (marinated in salt water) wash leave the leaves in water the night before you intend to cook so that you get rid of the salt. Then you will most probably have to boil for about half an hour.
- How will you know if the leaves are soft enough to wrap? One way of checking if the leaves are soft enough is to pick the stem. If you can easily pick it off then the leaves are OK to wrap. Another way so to mash a leaf with a spoon. If it mashable but still intact then it is OK to wrap.
- Flatten the leaves out perfectly, as if you are doing your weekly ironing.
- Don't leave your leaves to dry too much otherwise you will not be able to wrap. Do your wrapping when they are cooled off after boiling.
- If you wrap one by one it will take forever. You can wrap a few at a time as in the picture. Flatten out a few leaves, put the filling into each one and wrap yourself out. Otherwise I fear you will hate us forever.
- Before you start arraying the rolls into the pot, layout torn or unwrapable leaves onto the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the rolls on the bottom layer from sticking to the pot.
- As all is well I hear you ask: "I can wrap the leaves but what will I fill the leaves with?" I have good news, as much as the filling is a topic for another post, you can use the same filling for our recipe of stuffed peppers.