Dolma comprises a specific style of cuisine wherein various vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc., are stuffed with fillings made of rice, minced meat, nuts and spices. The word “Dolma” is of Turkish origin and literally denotes the stuffing procedure followed during the preparation of the dish. Dolma recipes are age old and are mainly popular in and around the Mediterranean areas and the Middle East. The variation of the same is found in certain parts of Eastern Europe as well. Though technically speaking a Dolma is a stuffed vegetable preparation, even fillings wrapped in leaves are also considered to be a delicacy that comes under this category. The best example for this would be the famous grape leaf Dolma.
The Origin of Dolma Recipes
Dolma dishes date back to the time of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire. Its origin can also be traced in neighboring regions comprising Russia, Iran and various Mediterranean countries. It is believed that the Greek Dolma prepared with vine leaves is as old as 2000 years.
Ingredients used in Dolma Recipes
Dolma being a specific style of cuisine and not just a single dish can be prepared with a wide assortment of ingredients. The famed Greek style preparation uses preserved vine leaves, rice, nuts, raisins, olive oil and various Mediterranean herbs and spices to bring in the authentic flavor. Dolma recipes found in the Middle East region are essentially vegetables like tomatoes, squashes, peppers and eggplants stuffed with a fine mixture of minced meat and rice flavored with native herbs. Usually the meat used is beef, lamb or pork.
Preparation of Dolma Dishes
Dolma in the Mediterranean region is prepared with pickled vine leaves used as the wrapper for the filling. The leaves are soaked in boiling water and then rinsed with cold water. The filler for the dish is prepared using a mixture of olive oil fried white onions, rice, mint leaves and nuts. After wrapping it with the leaf the Dolma is thoroughly cooked for nearly an hour in boiling water. The Middle Eastern style of preparation is quite similar but then, instead of vine leaves vegetables are used and the filling consists of minced meat and other ingredients.
Serving Dolma Dishes
Dolmas are usually served as appetizers along with yogurt as an accompaniment. Grape-leaf Dolmas are served cold and the stuffed vegetable ones are best when eaten at room temperature.
Variations in Dolma Recipes
Though, Grape-leaf Dolmas are world-famous, there exists alongside various other styles of preparations that comes under this broad culinary category. Like for example, the Middle Eastern stuffed vegetable version, the Iranian vine-leaf wrapped Dolmas with meat fillings or even the West Indian style where vegetables are stuffed with fish, etc. Owing to its age-old presence in different parts of the world, it’s no wonder that Dolma recipes have evolved with time, assimilating various ingredients and influences thereby redefining its flavor and taste.
Health Benefits of Dolma
Dolma dishes are generally considered to be very healthy owing to its high fiber content and the presence of various herbs and spices. This holds especially true in the case of Greek style Dolma preparation.