Egypt’s version of dolma is generally eaten hot. The rolls are filled with a cardamom-spiced beef mixture and are much smaller in size than other global variations.
- 500 g lamb forequarter pieces, rinsed well
- 2 onions, peeled
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 pieces of mastic (see Note) (optional)
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 400 g minced beef
- 130 g white rice
- 2 x 500 g jars preserved grape vine leaves (see Note)
- lemon wedges, flatbread and natural yoghurt (optional), to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 1 hour
Place lamb in a stockpot with onions, cardamom, mastic, if using, and 3 litres water. Bring to the boil, removing scum from surface. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour or until lamb is tender. Transfer lamb to a plate. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones. Discard bones. Strain stock, reserving 1.5 litres and discarding solids. Stir in lemon juice, 1 tbsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.
Meanwhile, combine beef and rice, and season with 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Rinse vine leaves, then drain. Place tough or broken leaves in the base of a large saucepan, reserving smaller, tender leaves for rolling.
Working in batches, place vine leaves flat on a work surface and remove any stalks with a small knife. Place 1 tsp rice mixture at one end of leaf, fold in the sides and roll up tightly to form finger-like rolls.
Scatter lamb over unstuffed vine leaves in pan, then layer stuffed vine leaves snugly on top. Place an upturned plate over vine leaves to prevent rolls unravelling during cooking. Pour over reserved stock and 125 ml water. Place pan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and cook for 50 minutes or until rolls are tender. Stand in cooking liquid for 1 hour, then transfer stuffed vine leaves and lamb to a plate. Serve with lemon, bread and yoghurt, if desired.
• Mastic, from delis, is a gum resin that is used to tame strong meat flavours.
• Grape vine leaves, from Middle Eastern food shops and selected supermarkets, are available preserved in jars and packets, or frozen.
As seen in Feast magazine, Mar 2012, Issue 7. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.
Photography by Brett Stevens.