Traditional Mediterranean Dolma: Homemade Stuffed Grape Leaves Recipe

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Dolma, a beloved dish in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, has a history that spans continents and centuries. The word 'Dolma' comes from the Turkish verb 'dolmak', meaning 'to be filled'. A truly international dish, you'll find different versions of dolma in the cuisines of countries from Greece to Iran, each with their unique spin.

While there are numerous varieties of this delicious comfort food, the one constant is that they involve stuffing, typically with a combination of rice, onions, and various herbs and spices. Today, we'll be focusing on the most recognized version – grape leaf dolma.

Let's dive into the making of this delicious, tangy, and hearty dish that offers a wonderful blend of flavor, nutrition, and tradition.

Recipe Overview

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Servings: 4-6


For the Filling:

1 cup uncooked short-grain white rice

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons currants

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Dolma:

1 jar grape leaves in brine (about 60 leaves)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups water

Juice of 2 lemons


  1. Begin by rinsing the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the rice to the skillet and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add the pine nuts, currants, spices, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine and remove from the heat. Mix in fresh herbs.
  5. Carefully remove the grape leaves from the jar, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry.
  6. To fill the grape leaves, place a leaf on a flat surface with the vein side up. Place a spoonful of the filling near the stem end of the leaf. Fold in the sides and roll the leaf up tightly, but not too tight as the rice will expand while cooking.
  7. Repeat until all the filling has been used.
  8. Arrange the dolmas in a pot, seam-side down. Drizzle with olive oil, the juice of the lemons, and add water.
  9. Place a small heatproof plate on top of the dolmas to prevent them from unwrapping during cooking.
  10. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and the flavors meld together.