There is a traditional meal in the Land of Fire that no Azerbaijani can imagine living without. It is the number one guest of all feasts along with rich flavored pilaf. Of course, I am talking about Dolma.
This stuffed meal is widely prepared in kitchens across the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia. However, in Azerbaijan this dish is iconic, you can meet it at every table during the traditional holiday.
There are many varieties of this dish, including vitamin full vegetables. In spring, when many fresh grape leaves appear – the main product for making dolma. Summer brings aubergines, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to stuff. In autumn dolma is made out of cabbage leaves, apple and quince. During the cold winters, it is made of preserved grape leaves.
The filling is also diverse, but dolma is basically prepared from meat, rice and aromatic herbs.
Fresh grape leaves are the healthier option for spring, as they are full of vitamin C.
In regions of Azerbaijan, dolma is also made of the leaves of the lime tree, quince, beech tree, sorrel, bean leaves, pennycress and other plants.
The name of this delicious dish came from the process of its creation, and means to stuff. Today, you can stuff your own dolma, which is quite simple.
For this, you will need 400g lamb meat, 120g rice, 80 g onions, 60g herbs such as coriander, dill and mint, 160g grape leaves, 80g yogurt, 40g melted butter, salt and pepper.
Mince the boneless lamb and onions for stuffing, and add rice, nicely chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Parboil fresh grape leaves until half-ready. Mix the filling well and wrap each grape leaf around some 25g of filling.
Then you need a saucepan to prepare this flavored meal. Place the prepared dolma in the pan and add water to cover it. In an hour you will sense the driving crazy smack, which means, that dolma is ready.
Serve it to your loved ones with yogurt in a separate bowl. You can add some garlic in it.
Another healthy meal in the spring with its choppy weather is kelem dolmasi or stuffed cabbage leaves.
Take 600g of lamb meat, 80g rice and 60g onion, 900g cabbage, 250g chestnut, 60g coriander, 40g wine vinegar or a little lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
The cooking technique is pretty much the same as for cooking grape leaves dolma. Mince the lamb with the onions, adding the rice the mix then the shelled and chopped chestnuts, chopped coriander, pepper and salt and mix well. Simmer the cabbage in boiling water and peel off the leaves. Stuff the cabbage leaves with the meat mixture.
Place the dolma in a saucepan and prepare in bouillon or water pouring a sauce made of sugar and vinegar over the dolma 20 minutes before they are cooked. Serve the cabbage dolma with yogurt as well.
Dolma is an incredibly delicious meal and it is likely once you’ve tried you will be left wanting more. It is easy to prepare, delicious to eat and healthy to enjoy.
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