Dolma is an Azerbaijani dish made by stuffing grape leaves with lamb meat, rice, onion, and herbs like mint, dill, and cilantro! They are perfect served alone or with a delicious and authentic garlic yogurt dipping sauce. These dolma are almost guaranteed to be a family favorite!
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I never thought that this day would come.
The second dish of Azerbaijan has arrived and… dare I say it?
This recipe might be the brand new winner of the title “Best Recipe Yet.”
Yeah, you heard me right. This dolma is, I’m pretty sure, the best recipe to have EVER been featured on The Foreign Fork.
Mama Foreign Fork has an obsession with grape leaves. When my mom was growing up, her favorite neighbor was an older woman from Lebanon.
On the weekends, the neighbor used to cook for my mom and share her favorite delicious Lebanese dishes, the best of which, my mother claims, were the grape leaves.
As I grew up, Mama Foreign Fork tried to encourage her reluctant and stubborn daughter (ahem, myself) to like grape leaves, but to no avail. As a child, I always thought they looked and tasted disgusting.
I hadn’t tried grape leaves in a few years, so when I saw dolma on a list of Azerbaijani recipes, I knew I wanted to make them for my mother.
But I was also fairly confident that I wasn’t going to like the recipe much myself. In fact, I put off making the dolma for quite a while because I didn’t want to spend so much time making a dish that I was going to “hate.”
But, as usually happens when I’m unsure about making a recipe for The Foreign Fork, I was proved wrong. Again.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
These dolma are Superb. Spectacular. Magnificent. Life-Changing. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Someone give me a better adjective!
My cousins came to visit from Georgia, so I made these grape leaves as an appetizer for them to try.
My recipe made 71 dolma… by the time 6 adults finished feasting, a mere 5 dolma remained. Now THAT, my dudes, is a recipe that I consider a success.
For those of you that are wondering how I ate these dolma while on the Whole30, I want to make it clear that I made these (and straight up devoured them) before my Whole30 actually began.
HOWEVER. I have some good suggestions for ways to make these guys actually Whole30 compliant! Instead of rice, you can combine the meat and onions with artichokes, pine nuts, or matchstick carrots. Each will create a different but still delicious flavor for your dolma.
Want to see check out the recipe that reigned supreme as Best Recipe Yet for 11 whole countries?? Click here to see my Kabuli Pulao Recipe from Afghanistan!
Want to try these dolma out for yourself? Make sure to share a photo of your creations on Facebook or Instagram and tag @theforeignfork or hashtag #theforeignfork!
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 medium onion, grated
- ½ cup medium-grain white rice, (such as basmati)
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh dill
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- About 75 medium sized grape leaves, jarred or canned
- 3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
- Plain Yogurt or Garlicky yogurt sauce, to serve
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the stuffing ingredients. Mix with your hand until well combined.
- If using canned leaves, put batches of them in a colander, rinse well under cold water to remove the salt, and drain. If the canned leaves feel too thick, blanch them in boiling water for about a minute, then drain. Otherwise, do not blanch. Cut off the stems.
- Arrange some of the damaged leaves flat on the bottom of the saucepan. If you don’t have damaged leaves, line the bottom of the saucepan with unused whole leaves to cover.
- Hold a leaf shiny side down on the palm of your hand. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling at the stem end of the leaf. Fold the top down, then the sides over the filling and roll up tightly to shape it into a 1-inch round bundle.
- Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, on the bottom of the pan. Continue until all the leaves and filling are used, arranging the stuffed bundles snugly together in the pan, making several layers.
- Dot the top with butter and pour in water to cover the dolma halfway. Place a small lid or a small ovenproof plate on top of the stuffed leaves to keep them tight and to prevent them from opening. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the leaves are tender, the filling is cooked, and there is little liquid left (if the liquid is completely absorbed at some point during cooking, add more water and continue to simmer).
- Serve immediately with bread and plain yogurt or garlicky yogurt sauce to spoon onto the dolma to taste.
- Garlicky Yogurt Sauce: To make garlicky yogurt sauce, in a bowl, combine 1 cup or more plain yogurt with 2-4 cloves garlic, crushed with a garlic press.