When they are cooked, the pot is upturned onto a tray, with a spectacular end result. If you’re not quite sure how to do it, check out Aedah and Samah preparing and cooking their dolma at www.refugeeweek.org.au.
Dolma was always an important meal for us back home. Every Sunday, my family would gather around a large tray of dolma and you would hear nothing but the sounds of spoons clashing and silent moans savouring this deliciously satisfying dish. I come from an Assyrian Iraqi family. Growing up in Baghdad, food was an essential part of what brought our community together. In 2003, when the US entered Iraq, we fled to the North towards our ancestral village of Alqosh. In the midst of the fear and uncertainty of losing our home or our friends and family, 21 of our family members gathered in a one-room stone house to share our daily meals. As a child, I remember watching my mother cook the most amazing meals.
Dolma, because of its complexity and variety of ingredients, would usually be cooked on special occasions such as celebrating a holiday, the homecoming of a relative or large family gatherings. It is not a simple dish - it is complex with multiple layers and ingredients and often requires a co-chef. It was also cooked for funerals; comforting the family and loved ones of the deceased. At 13, while we were in the northern region waiting to return to our homes in Baghdad, I watched my mother prepare dolma more often than we were used to. Food for us was the constant comfort during a time that we felt displaced. My family and I have been in Australia for one year now, and this feeling is still true today. We are taking each day as it comes and we make dolma on the hardest of days. My mother’s desire to bring us together and recreate a feeling of home will always be present in her recipes. It is truly a community meal. -Words from Samah, the daughter of this recipe's chef.