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- Grape leaves for making 50-60 stuffed grape leaves,
- 1/2 Cup white rice and cracked wheat - bulgur (in this recipe we used both of them, but if you want you can use only rice),
- 3 Tablespoons Olive oil
- 2 medium size onions grated or chopped finely,
- 1 Teaspoon Ground black pepper red pepper flakes and salt,
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin (it is optional),
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried mint (it is optional),
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley and dill (it is optional),
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato paste (1 Tablespoon tomato paste for filling, rest of the tomato paste for tomato paste sauce),
- 1/2 Lemon juice 1/2 lemon slices for serving,
- 1- First of all put your all ingredients on the work table. Then, lets prepare to grape leaves. If you have fresh grape leaves, boil water in a pot. Cook grape leaves for 1 or 2 minutes in boiling water. Take out them and let them cool. If you are using the grape leaves in brine, soak them in cold water for an hour; they tend to be salty. (In this recipe, we used grape leaves in brine). Don't forget to cut off the stems as close to the leaf as possible Bye the way, Save the broken, faulty leaves. Use them to cover the bottom of a pot with grape leaves to prevent them from burning.
- 2- Then put olive oil in a pot, add your chopped onions and cook. When your onions are transparent, add the 1 tablespoon tomato paste and stir gently. Then, add your rice and cracked wheat (bulgur) and all the rest of your ingredients (ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried mint cumin, salt, parsley and dill,). Stir mixture 5-7 minutes. Then, add 1 cup of hot water. Lower heat and simmer your rice - cracked wheat (bulgur) mixture for about 10 minutes. Then, remove your mixture to a bowl and let it cool.
- 3- Then, take one leaf of grape and place it on a smooth surface the vein side up and shiny side down. Place a spoonful of stuffing (mixture of filling) at the bottom center of the leaf close to the stem. Then, fold in two sides first and then the bottom. Then roll it neatly like a cigarette. Keep rolling until all the grape leaves are gone. If there is any leftover stuffing (mixture of filling), place it in a cup or glass and then in the center of the pot so it can cook along with the leaves. This is what most our moms and grandmoms do, but if you want, you can freeze the leftover filling for a later use as well.
- 4- Then, place the stuffed grape leaves in a pot for cooking; there are two methods for this. You can either arrange the stuffed leaves in the pot leaving the center empty or place them in rows without leaving any space at the bottom. In this recipe we prefered first way. then add a few layers of grape leaves and top with sliced tomatoes. This protects the stuffed grape leaves touching the bottom of the pot from scorching.
- 5-Then take an another bowl and put rest of the tomato paste and hot water in it. And mix them well. Then, pour this mixture and olive oil over the rolls. Bye the way, don't forget to place a heavy flat plate on top of stuffed grape leaves, so that they won’t move around. Then, allow them to cook over the lowest heat for 45 minutes, or until the rice has completely cooked inside the rolls or 25 minutes in a pressure cooker. Because, we used pressure cooker in this recipe.
- 6- Once cooked, remove your stuffed grape leaves dish from the pot/pressure cooker and allow them to cool before serving. Cool completely before serving. Squeeze lemon over it.
- 7- They are often served with our Turkish style potatoes salad, plain yogurt, mint yogurt sauce or a cucumber and yogurt dip (Turkish cacik, very similar to tzatziki). Also garnish to sliced lemon pieces on top of serving plate.