Dried eggplant and pepper dolma with ground meat and spiced rice
I hope you enjoy these dried eggplants and peppers, stuffed with ground meat, aromatic rice, pomegranate molasses and spices, a Southern Turkish specialty. Afiyet Olsun!
Recipe type: Regional Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
  • 12 dried eggplant shells & 15 dried small bell pepper shells, string removed
  • 1 large onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 200gr/7 oz. / 1 cup long grain rice, rinsed
  • 400gr/14 oz. ground (minced) beef – or ground meat of your choice -
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste (biber salcasi) – optional
  • 15ml/ 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (or a good balsamic vinegar, for substitute)
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil (for the filling)
  • 5ml/1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10ml/2 tsp. dried mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped, as a cap (optional)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil (for cooking)
  • 500ml/ 16 fl oz. / 2 cups (or a little less) water for cooking
  • Garlicky plain yoghurt to serve
  • Turkish red pepper flakes to serve
  1. Cut the strings of the dried eggplants and peppers and place on a large pan of boiling water. Blanch them for 3 minutes to rehydrate. Afterwards, gently place them on another pan with cold water for 2 minutes, to give them a “cold bath”; this will help them to retain their color and texture and not to break apart. Then gently place the hydrated dried peppers and eggplants in a sieve/colander, ready to be stuffed.
  2. Place the onions, garlic, pepper paste (if using), tomato paste, parsley, 1 tbsp. olive oil and spices in a large bowl. Season with salt and black ground pepper to your taste. Knead this mixture with your hands for a minute, making sure all blended well (this stage also helps to soften the onions). Stir in the ground meat, rice and pomegranate molasses to the bowl and mix well. Filling is ready.
  3. Get a wide, heavy pan for cooking and pour in the 2 tbsp. olive oil (it would be ideal to place the stuffed peppers/eggplants side by side in one layer). Spoon the filling mixture carefully into each pepper and eggplant, pressing gently for the filling to settle in. Make sure to leave about 1cm (0.4”) space at top for the rice to cook and expand. You can seal the tops with a piece of tomato as a cap or you may press the edges together for a gentle close. Place them up right, side by side, packed tightly.
  4. Pour in about 2 cups of water (or a little less) over and around the stuffed peppers and eggplants. The water should cover half length of the stuffed vegetables. Bring the liquid to the boil then reduce heat, cover and cook gently for 30 – 35 minutes or until the filling is cooked.
  5. Serve hot with Turkish red pepper flakes sprinkled over them, if you like. Thick plain yoghurt with a little crushed garlic goes very well with these stuffed eggplants and peppers. Cacik dip of cucumber, yoghurt and mint would complement these dolmas very nicely too.
You can use bulgur instead of rice. For a gluten-free option, you can use whole grain basmati rice.
You can omit ground meat for a vegetarian option. I suggest including more onions and herbs instead with extra olive oil for the vegetarian option.
Recipe by Ozlem's Turkish Table at https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2014/03/stuffed-dried-eggplant-and-pepper-dolma-kuru-patlican-dolmasi/