What are dolmades?
Dolmades (Greek spelling ντολμάδες, pronounced “dol-ma-des”) is a Greek dish consisting of vine leaves filled with a mixture of rice, onion and spices, which are cooked until soft and served cold. They are eaten as a snack or as part of a mezze dish with various other snacks.
Although dolmades outside of Greece are almost always filled vine leaves, there are other varieties in the country itself. Instead of vine leaves, the Greeks also use cabbage leaves for their dolmades. The dish is then called lahanodolmades and is usually filled with minced meat or a mixture of rice and meat. Meat dolmades are eaten hot and preferably topped with an egg-lemon sauce, called avgolemono.
Did you know?
Stuffed vine leaves can also be found in Turkish cuisine, where they are called sarma, and in Middle Eastern countries. The entire region is fond of stuffing leafy vegetables. Ask a Greek and you will be told that it was invented by the Greeks, perhaps on Mount Olympus or during the time of Alexander the Great. Ask a Turk, and you’ll be firmly persuaded that the dish comes from Turkey. Historians have not come to a consensus and we will probably never be able to say for sure.
How to make dolmades
The young leaves are picked from a vine, rinsed and blanched in a pan of water. The drained leaves are rinsed cold and patted dry.
A vegetarian filling of rice, finely chopped spring onions, parsley, dill and dried mint is thoroughly mixed. Pine nuts, minced meat or currants can also be added to this.
The vine leaves are filled by hand, with one to two tablespoons of filling per vine leaf, and rolled up like spring rolls: first, roll up a bit, then fold the sides in and then finish rolling. Not too tightly, because the rice will swell when the rolls are cooked later.
The rolls are laid snugly against each other in a pan on a bed of extra vine leaves, always with the seam of the roll down. Most Greek mums make industrial quantities of dolmades and place several layers on top of each other in the pan until it is full. The pan is filled with olive oil and water and a plate or lid is placed directly on the rolls so that they remain underwater during cooking. They are done after about 45 minutes of cooking.
How to eat
You can eat dolmades with your hands.
Serve dolmades in the Greek style: with a slice of lemon to squeeze over and a dollop of yoghurt or tzatziki to dip.