The food in Armenia was a real treat, especially after the limited variety in Georgia! Armenia’s land is very fertile and the locals take pride in using fresh and local produce. One dish we tasted in various traditional restaurants was the ‘dolma’, stuffed parcels of meat or/and rice wrapped in cabbage or grape leaves. Similar to those found in Greek and Turkish cuisine. However, the very best dolma we had was not in a restaurant! After a long day of hitchhiking we were welcomed into a lovely family home in a town south of Yerevan, and presented with the mother’s delicious dolmas! Full of flavour and incredibly moist, we could not leave without begging for the recipe! Below is the recipe kindly given to us by Marine and her daughter Anna. The secret to the tastiness of Marine’s dolmas is that they are boiled in tomato juice. Although they look fiddly, once you have done the first dolma you will find that they are incredibly quick and easy! And look great on the table!
1 head of green cabbage
1kg minced beef
1/2 cup rice
2 tbsps tomato puree
2 onions, diced
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
Herbs: fresh bunch of parsley, basil, coriander or dill; a combination of herbs works well
Salt and pepper
Spices (paprika, coriander, turmeric) optional
In a large bowl mix the uncooked meat, rice, chopped herbs, onions, butter, spices (salt and pepper, you can add other spices of your choice) and tomato sauce. Mix until well combined.
Cut the head of the cabbage at the bottom, carefully removing the leaves one by one without breaking them
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boiling point and let the cabbage leaves boil for approximately 7 minutes. Remove the cabbage leaves from the water and place on a tray. Leave until cool enough to handle.
Take one cabbage leaf, place a tablespoon of stuffing on the border closest to you, roll the edge of cabbage over it, and fold the two sides of the cabbage leaves inward and roll. It sounds complicated but it’s just like rolling up a carpet!
Repeat for all the cabbage leaves and stuffing.
Place each stuffed cabbage roll in a pot with the folded end underneath so that it does not unfold. Sprinkle with salt. Place a heat resistant plate on top of the dolmas ( in the pot) so that they do not open up.
Pour equal amounts of chopped tomatoes and water on top of the dolmas until they are completely covered. You are unlikely to use both cans of tomatoes completely.
Cook on a medium heat for approximately 40 minutes or until a fork easily pierces through the dolmas. Serve either hot or cold, as a snack or part of a main meal. Enjoy!
Have you ever tasted or tried making Armenian dolmas? We would love to hear your experience and any variations of the recipe!