How do you spell it?
Dolmathes, Dolmades or Dolmadakia?
Well, two out of the three ways listed above are correct:
Secondly, how do you say it?
Thirdly, how do you make it?
To start, let’s talk about a main ingredient: the Grape Leaf.
Grape leaves are a heart shaped leaf with a similar structure to that of a maple leaf. Though each leaf will vary in color and texture, all grape leaves will have three main triangular points facing outward from the leaf's stem. Some will be smooth edged, others toothed. Grape leaves do not develop much flavor, unlike the fruit of the vine.
Their culinary purpose is to serve as a vessel and textural component. Grape leaves also act as a culinary sponge. Once cooked, the leaves will absorb and reflect the flavor profiles of the ingredients they carry.
You do eat the grape leaves in dolmades. The leaves are selected for edibility - and they are so tender and delectable. They should not be too young (fragile) or too old (tough), and they should be of medium size.
The word “dolma” means ‘to be stuffed.’ The grape leaves are typically stuffed with rice, herbs, seasonings, and meat, and cooked in a large pan with some lemon juice, stock or water, and oil.
There are many recipes from many traditions for dolmas on the web, here is one from allrecipes.com:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2/3 cup long grain white rice
- 2/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 (8 ounce) jar grape leaves, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups water
Mix the lamb, onions, rice, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and mint into a bowl until evenly combined. Gently open up a grape leaf, and place rib-side down onto your work surface. Place a rounded tablespoon of the meat mixture into the center of the grape leaf. Fold the bottom of the leaf over the meat, fold in the sides, and roll into a tight cylinder. Place the rolled grape leaf into a large skillet, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining grape leaves, packing them in a tight, single layer.
Pour the water into the skillet, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, 50 to 55 minutes. Check occasionally and add more water if needed. Pour off water before serving.