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Tag Archives | dolma

Swiss chard stuffed with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat, rice and herbs; Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat, rice and herbs; Kis Sarmasi

Any sight of large leaves gets me excited with the prospect of stuffing them. I grew up with my mother’s delicious stuffed vine leaves, yaprak sarma  and stuffed cabbage leaves, lahana sarmasi ,one of our favorite meals.  As a family affair, my father would prepare the leaves and mother and whoever around the table would o the stuffing. And of course, everyone would be very keen to do a “quality check” after cooking, just to make sure they’re cooked 🙂 Happy days.

Turkish people are very fond of stuffed vegetables or dolmas as we call in Turkish. Stuffed tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and eggplants are the year round favorites. Cabbage leaves are stuffed in winter and vine leaves and zucchini flowers herald a fresh option in spring time. The success of any great dolma, which literally means “stuffed”, relies heavily on getting the stuffing right. With a dollop of yoghurt or a slice of lemon aside, they are utterly delicious. For a vegetarian option, try this stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice and herb filling; Zeytinyagli sarma; they are simply irresistible, with a wedge of lemon aside.

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice in hot pepper sauce - delicious

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice in hot pepper sauce

I got some wonderful leafy winter greens, (similar to Swiss chard, though with a slimmer stem) from my local market. Like cabbage leaves, they need to soften up first so that they can be stuffed. With a southern Turkish addition of  Turkish hot pepper paste sauce, biber salcasi (or a tomato based sauce) and garlic yoghurt aside, they were so delicious. You can use cabbage leaves or Swiss card here too. Please don’t worry about  making the perfect roll; as long as they’re not over filled, they stay intact and taste delicious. I hope you enjoy these delicious rolls, or sarmas, as much as we did.

Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi
 
Serves: 4 -6
Ingredients
  • 2 bunches (about 400 gr) Winter greens with large leaves or Swiss Chard
  • For the filling:
  • 225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef or ground lamb (ground turkey works well too)
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, grated
  • 110gr/4oz/1/2 cup long grain rice (or whole grain basmati rice for gluten-free option)
  • 45ml/3 tbsp. flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon, 200 ml/ 1 cup (or little more) water and 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking
  • Tomato/red pepper paste sauce:
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste or tomato paste (for milder taste)
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 60ml/ 4 tbsp. water
  • Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to sprinkle (optional)
  • Garlic yoghurt sauce:
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed in sea salt and finely chopped
  • 8 fl oz./1 cup natural plain yoghurt
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. dried mint (optional)
Instructions
  1. Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.
  2. Bring a pan of water to boil. Cut the stalks of your winter greens (if you’re using Swiss chard, you may need to cut the stem and separate from the leaves).
  3. Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water
  4. Place the fresh, trimmed leaves in to the boiling water until they wilt, for about 25-30 seconds. Drain and refresh the leaves in a bowl of cold water, this will help retain their color. Then drain the leaves and spread on a tray, ready for stuffing.
  5. Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.
  6. Grate the onion and put with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and bind them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil and knead well.
  7. Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. (depending on the size of the leaf, adjust a little less or more but avoid over filling) of the stuffing at near end of the leaf (towards you). Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing.
  8. Now fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.
  9. Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, in a wide, deep pan. Pack them quite tightly in circles, this will keep them intact. You may need to make more than one layer, depending on the size of the pan.
  10. Mix 200ml water with the juice of lemon and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour over the stuffed leaves. This liquid should cover at least half way up the top layer; add some more water if you need to. Season with salt and place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).
  11. Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium. Once it starts to bubble, cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.
  12. While the rolls (sarma,as we call in Turkish) are cooking, prepare the garlic yoghurt. Simply combine the chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well. You can season with sea salt and ½ tsp. dried mint, if you like.
  13. For the hot pepper paste (or tomato paste) sauce; stir in 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small pan, over low heat. Stir and pour 4-5 tbsp. water, gently simmer for a minute. Season with salt and ground black pepper if you like; the sauce is ready.
  14. Drizzle the hot pepper paste sauce over the cooked rolls and sprinkle a little Turkish red pepper flakes (if you like) and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt aside.
Serves 4 -6

Preparation time: 40-45 minutes                    Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 bunches (about 400 gr) Winter greens with large leaves or Swiss Chard

For the filling:

225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef or ground lamb (ground turkey works well too)

2 small or 1 large onion, grated

110gr/4oz/1/2 cup long grain rice (or whole grain basmati rice for gluten-free option)

45ml/3 tbsp. flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped

15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon, 200 ml/ 1 cup (or little more) water and 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking

Tomato/red pepper paste sauce:

15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste or tomato paste (for milder taste)

30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil

60ml/ 4 tbsp. water

Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to sprinkle (optional)

Garlic yoghurt sauce:

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed in sea salt and finely chopped

8 fl oz./1 cup natural plain yoghurt

Salt to taste

½ tsp. dried mint (optional)

 

Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.

Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.

Bring a pan of water to boil. Cut the stalks of your winter greens (if you’re using Swiss chard, you may need to cut the stem and separate from the leaves).

Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water

Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water

Place the fresh, trimmed leaves in to the boiling water until they wilt, for about 25-30 seconds. Drain and refresh the leaves in a bowl of cold water, this will help retain their color. Then drain the leaves and spread on a tray, ready for stuffing.

Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.

Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.

Grate the onion and put with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and bind them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil and knead well.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. stuffing.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. stuffing.

Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. (depending on the size of the leaf, adjust a little less or more but avoid over filling) of the stuffing at near end of the leaf (towards you). Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing.

fold in the sides of the leaf

fold in the sides of the leaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.

Then roll into a tight log.

Then roll into a tight log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, in a wide, deep pan. Pack them quite tightly in circles, this will keep them intact. You may need to make more than one layer, depending on the size of the pan.

Place the stuffed leaves seam side down in a wide, deep pan.

Place the stuffed leaves seam side down in a wide, deep pan.

Mix 200ml water with the juice of lemon and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour over the stuffed leaves. This liquid should cover at least half way up the top layer; add some more water if you need to. Season with salt and place the pan over a medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact). Cover and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.

Place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).

Place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).

While the rolls (sarma, as we call in Turkish) are cooking, prepare the garlic yoghurt. Simply combine the chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well. You can season with sea salt and ½ tsp. dried mint, if you like.

For the hot pepper paste (or tomato paste) sauce; stir in 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small pan, over low heat. Stir and pour 4 tbsp. water, gently simmer for a minute. Season with salt and ground black pepper if you like; the sauce is ready.

Drizzle the hot pepper paste sauce over the cooked rolls and sprinkle a little Turkish red pepper flakes (if you like) and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt aside.

Stuffed winter leaves with ground meat and aromatic rice; Kis Sarmasi

Stuffed winter leaves with ground meat and aromatic rice; Kis Sarmasi

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Note: The stems or any broken leaves and a bit of left over filling can turn into a delicious meal. Simply chop the leaves and stems and sauté with some olive oil and garlic, adding the filling if any left over. You can add a few tomatoes in it or crack an egg; it would make a delicious bite.

 

 

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Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes with Ground Meat and Rice – Dolma

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Stuffed peppers and tomatoes in ground meat, onion and aromatic rice; domates ve biber dolmasi – delicious and also gluten-free

Some of the food we eat has the ability to transport us to our childhood, have a special link to bond us with those precious memories. These stuffed peppers and tomatoes have such power on me; they are the delicious gateways to take me back home, right to my mother’s as well as my grandmother’s kitchen. Preparing the dolma is quite a grand ritual at home; cousins, sisters, whoever available, gather around a big table; filled with trays of vegetables and stuffing. Some prepare the vegetables, scooping the flesh out, some make the filling, and some do the stuffing. These all happen, of course, with constant flow of Turkish coffee and tea (cay) and catching up! We would then eagerly wait for the dolmas to be cooked; then me and my sister would eat the dolma with a dollop of plain yoghurt on top. We used to call them our “savory ice cream”; I am now trying this trick on my own children 🙂

A dollop of plain or garlicky yoghurt over the dolmas is delicious

A dollop of plain or garlicky yoghurt over the dolmas is delicious

We Turks love stuffing vegetables. The word dolma is used for the vegetables like aubergines, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes that can be stuffed. I like to save the scooped flesh of the tomatoes and use it in the sauce of the dolmas. Stuffed tomatoes are especially a staple of the summer season when tomatoes are abundant and at their peak. For a richer taste, you can also add red pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste to the sauce.

This dish is made from wholegrain basmati rice and it is also gluten-free. Garlicky or plain yoghurt by the side complements the dolmas very well.  We made these dolmas at my recent Turkish cookery class; it was a highlight for the participants and they were surprised how easy the dolmas were. I hope you enjoy them and can have a go too.

Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 40 minutes                        Cooking time: 45 minutes

3 medium size bell peppers – or 5-6 small bell peppers

4 medium tomatoes

6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed

For the filling:

110gr/4oz/ 1/2 cup ground beef/lamb or ground turkey

115gr/4oz/generous 1/2 cup wholegrain basmati rice, rinsed

2 medium onion, grated

Bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

10ml/1tbsp olive oil

10ml/2 tsp dried mint

10ml / 2 tsp ground black pepper

Salt to taste

For the sauce:

The flesh of the scooped tomatoes, finely chopped

15 ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

15ml/1 tbsp. red pepper paste or tomato paste – optional-

 

Red pepper flakes to serve – optional-

Bowl of plain (natural yoghurt) or garlicky yoghurt to serve

 

Filling ingredients for the dolmas; dried mint and parsley add a delicious, refreshing flavour

Filling ingredients for the dolmas; dried mint and parsley add a delicious, refreshing flavour

Put the ground meat in a large bowl and stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. Season and knead, until all blended well. The filling is ready.

Scoop out the seeds of the peppers; save the flesh of the tomatoes

Scoop out the seeds of the peppers; save the caps of the peppers and tomatoes.

Now, let’s prepare the vegetables. Cut the stalk ends of the peppers and save them aside (we will need them to cap the stuffed peppers later). Scoop out the seeds of the peppers.

Save the flesh of the tomatoes to go at the sauce of the dolmas

Save the flesh of the tomatoes to go at the sauce of the dolmas, stuffed peppers and tomatoes.

Slice the tops of the tomatoes and save them aside. Using a spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh, chop them finely and reserve in a bowl. Take care not to pierce through the skin of the tomatoes.

Stuff the tomatoes and peppers with the filling until they are about ¾ full.

Stuff the tomatoes and peppers with the filling until they are about ¾ full.

Take a few spoonfuls of the filling and pack it into the vegetables, until they are about ¾ full. Take care not to overfill to the top, as the rice filling will need some space to expand. Place the stalk ends and tomato tops as lids.

Once cooked, pour a little of the dolmas’ delicious sauce over each stuffed pepper, tomato before serving.

Once cooked, pour a little of the dolmas’ delicious sauce over each stuffed pepper, tomato before serving.

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in to a heavy pan.  Place the stuffed vegetables upright, packed tightly, in the pan. For the sauce; combine the chopped tomato flesh with 1 tbsp. red pepper paste or tomato paste (if you are using, for a richer taste) and stir in to the pan. Then pour a couple of cups of water around the stuffed vegetables, until it covers just about the half of vegetables. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir in the cloves of garlic and cover. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the filling cooked.

Domates ve biber dolmasi; stuffed tomatoes and peppers; delicious & gluten-free

Domates ve biber dolmasi; stuffed tomatoes and peppers; delicious & gluten-free

Once cooked, I like to take their cap off and pour a little of the dolmas’ delicious sauce over each stuffed pepper and tomato before serving and put their cap back on. Serve hot with plain natural or garlic yoghurt by the side. You can also  sprinkle red pepper flakes over the dolmas if you like.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Stuffed Peppers and Zucchini (Courgettes) with Bulgur, Ground Meat and Spices; Antakya (Antioch) Style – Kabak ve Biber Dolmasi, Antakya Usulu

Stuffed peppers and zucchini with bulgur, ground meat & onion

Stuffed peppers and zucchini with bulgur, ground meat & onion

Some of the food we eat has the power to transport us to our childhood, have a special link to bond us with those precious memories. These stuffed peppers and courgettes (zucchini) have such power on me; they are the delicious gateways to take me back home, right to my mother’s as well as my grandmother’s kitchen in the ancient city of Antioch, Antakya.

My Grandmother’s 450 year old house in ancient Antioch; we used to gather around a big table in the courtyard for wonderful feasts

Preparing the dolma is quite a grand ritual at home; cousins, sisters, whoever available, gather around a big table; filled with trays of vegetables and stuffing. Some prepare the vegetables, scooping the flesh out, some make the filling, and some do the stuffing. These all happen, of course, with constant flow of Turkish coffee and tea (cay) and catching up! We would then eagerly wait for the dolma to be cooked; then me and my sister would eat the dolma with a dollop of plain yoghurt on top. We used to call them our “savory ice cream”; I am now trying this trick on my children:)

My mother rolling the stuffed vine leaves; we would all help preparing the vine leaves, removing stalks, or making Turkish coffee!

We Turks love stuffing vegetables. The word dolma is used for the vegetables like aubergines, peppers, courgettes that are stuffed. Fruits such as apples, quince and plums can be stuffed too. We also stuff vine leaves (that is called sarma, here is the link for the recipe) and cabbage leaves (lahana sarma, here is the link for that recipe), either with an aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants or with ground meat, rice, herbs and spices.

Stuffed peppers with aromatic rice and herb filling

This recipe comes from the ancient town of Antakya, Antioch, where my roots are from. This is the region where bulgur, red pepper paste, pomegranate molasses and spices like red pepper flakes, cumin, and mint are used frequently. All these add such rich, wonderful flavor to the dishes, and very healthy too. I used bulgur instead of the traditional rice for stuffing, like we do in Antakya. Bulgur’s nutty, wonderful flavor adds another dimension to the dish, with bonus of bulgur’s many health benefits. In Antakya, once the flesh of the vegetables taken out, they are given a little wash with pomegranate molasses & little water. The tangy and sweet flavor of the molasses adds to the richness of the flavor. You can use a good balsamic vinegar if you can’t get hold of pomegranate molasses.

 I hope you enjoy this delicious, satisfying dolma packed with flavor and memories and have a chance to visit the fascinating Antioch sometime.

 Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 40 minutes               Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

3 medium size courgettes (zucchini)

3 medium size bell peppers

30ml/2tbsp pomegranate molasses or good balsamic vinegar, mixed with 1tbsp water

3 small tomatoes, cut in half (to cap the dolmas)

6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed

For the filling:

110gr/4oz/ 1/2 cup ground beef/lamb or ground turkey

115gr/4oz/generous 1/2 cup coarse bulgur wheat

1 medium onion, finely chopped or grated

Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

10ml/1tbsp olive oil

10ml/1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste or red pepper paste

5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes/chilli flakes

5ml/1tsp ground cumin

5ml/1tsp dried mint

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Bowl of plain (natural yoghurt) or cucumber, yoghurt dip, cacik  to serve

Stuffing ingredients all together

Put the ground meat in a large bowl and stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. Season and knead, until all blended well. The filling is ready.

Stuffing ingredients, after mixing

Now, let’s prepare the vegetables. Cut the stalk ends of the peppers and save them aside (we will need them to cap the stuffed peppers later). Scoop out the seeds of the peppers.

Scoop out the seeds of the peppers to prepare for stuffing

Cut the courgettes in half. Scoop out the flesh of the courgettes with the help of a long coffee spoon (in Antakya, we use a long and thin scooping device made just for that purpose). Carefully remove some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff. Take care to leave the bottom of the courgettes intact.

Taking the flesh out of the courgettes (zucchini); long coffee spoon would work here

I Iike to save the flesh of the courgettes, as they go very well in the bulgur, tomato and courgette recipe. You can keep them in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer up to 3 months.

Give a little wash to the peppers and zucchini with pomegranate molasses and water mix

Mix the water with the pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar) and wash the inside of the peppers and courgettes with this mixture. Add the left overs of this delicious juice to filling mixture, mix well.

Take spoonfuls of the filling mixture and pack it into the vegetables. Take care not to overfill to the top, as bulgur will need a little space to expand. Place the stalk ends and the halved tomatoes as lids. Place the stuffed vegetables upright, packed tightly, in a heavy pan. Pour a couple of cups of water to the pan, until it covers the half of vegetables. Stir in the cloves of garlic and cover. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Cap the stuffed peppers and zucchini with the pepper stalks and halved tomatoes

Serve hot with plain natural yoghurt or Cacik; yoghurt and cucumber dip.

Stuffed peppers and zucchini; they go so well with plain yoghurt by the side

Afiyet Olsun!

Snapshot from home, Turkey: Ancient city of Antioch, Antakya 

Here is a new section in the blog! Whenever I can, I would like to give a little snapshot of fascinating places in Turkey that I have visited. Food and travel complement one another so well, and I hope this part could bring the places alive and inspire you to visit sometime.

Ancient Antioch, Antakya; cradle of many civilizations

Here, I would like to introduce my beloved, ancient home town Antakya, located in the southern part of Turkey.  Antakya was one of the three biggest cities of the Roman Empire and the capital of the east.  Antakya was founded in B.C. 4 by the Syrian King, Seleukos, and he named the city after his father, Antiochos.  Over the centuries, the city was under Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and French rule.  As of 1939, Antakya became a part of the Republic of Turkey.

One of the many grand mosaics at the Antakya Mosaic Museum

Antakya Mosaic Museum is the world’s 2nd biggest mosaic museum in terms of the richness, quality and the size of the mosaics.  The mosaics you’ll see there are from the Roman and the Byzantine periods, and they are simply fascinating.  The museum also hosts magnificent sculptures; the most important of them is the 3 meter high figure of Apollo.

Friendly children of Antakya, guiding us towards the Church of St Peter

St Pierre Church (Church of St Peter) is another fascinating sight. St Peter’s Church, built in a cave, on the skirts of Habib Neccar Mountain in Antakya, is known as one of the first places that the early Christians gathered.  St Petrus, one of the followers of Jesus (A.D. 29- 30), came to Antakya and used this “cave” to expand Christianity. St PierreChurch is regarded as the first church of Christianity outside Jerusalem.  Due to its importance, Pope Paul 6th declaredSt Pierre Church a pilgrimage for Christians.  Every year on June 29th, Remembrance of St Petrus ceremonies take place in Antakya, with the participation of thousands of Christians from around the world.

Church of St Peter, Antakya

Another wonderful visit in Antakya is the Long Market, Uzun Carsi, city’s ancient market. This is the place I visited many times as a child, to get our daily bread, yoghurt, cheese and vegetables, when we used to visit my Grandma. The smells and colors are simply mesmerizing. Antakya’s cuisine has an incredible richness of fresh herbs and spices, packed with flavor.  A type of wild oregano, zahter, cumin and red pepper flakes are used very commonly.  The red pepper paste, biber salcasi, is one of the landmarks of Antakya too.  The richness of this red pepper paste adds a wonderful flavor to casseroles and meat dishes.  Another specialty food item worth mentioning is the nar eksisi, the syrup made from concentrated sour pomegranate juice.  This incredibly rich, concentrated flavor is a must for many traditional salads and meze spreads.

 

The Long Market (Uzun Carsi) in Antakya, packed with mesmerising spices, olive oil based soaps and many more

Hand carved wooden spoons in the Long Market; I use them everyday!

This is the Tunel of Vespasion, in the village of Kapisuyu, Antakya. It was built as a water channel in the 2nd century. Another fascinating visit.

The Tunnel of Vespasion, Antakya – Hatay

There are many more photos of my travels to Turkey here, if you would like to have a look.

Happy travels to you all!

 

 

 

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