Stuffed Leaves, yum or not?

Have you been somewhere in the middle east, Turkey or Greece and came across stuffed leaves or vegetables? What were your thoughts?

Did you want to eat them or not? In this article i will make sure to list all reasons why you should not miss them the next time you see them!

Turkish or Greek?

Many articles i came across suggests that stuffed leaves and vegetables are something of a novelty, and certainly a delicacy for the Ottomans! was initially reserved for the Sultan’s table. Over time it extended more, and became very popular as an item of Mediterranean cuisine and surrounding regions.

This is a very popular dish in the Arabic and Saudi table! So how did we know about it? during the the period of Ottoman rule over Egypt in the 14th century, many eating habits were transferred to Egyptians and many items were added to the Egyptian cuisine, stuffed leaves and vegetables were one of those

In Turkish “Dolma” refers to the stuffed dishes – dolmak (to fill). Many historians claim that it was discovered and first severed in the Dolmabahçe Sarayi the famous palace in which it name means Filled-in Garden” and the idea of the Dolama was in way similar to the palace concept!

In Greek dolmades. In Arabic (hardest to pronounce as usual hehe) : Maah’shi or Mahaashi as plural.

Enough with History and origin already!

Now let me tell you about the stuffing types. There are 2 different stuffing methods: stuff and roll moist leaves Or hollow out heart of vegetable to leave just the skin and stuff it.

For each type there is a standard stuffing interesting, and because this poor stuffed leaves traveled across the world they are seasoned differently in every region.

Main stuffing ingredients could be: either Rice or Groats (Borgol), Minced meat, green leaves, cooked with clear stock or tomato stock, seasoned with the local spices.

for the stuffed vegetables, there is no pre-preparation needed, as for the leaves (grape & Cabbage) they need to be pre-cooked or soaked before they are ready to be used.

Now comes my part, allow me to delight you with the description of these delightful stuffed thingies!

Photo from my Kitchen

Stuffed Cabbage

In Arabic: Mah’shi Malfoof or Corumb. As you can see in the picture from my kitchen, it looks greenish and shiny! whereas without cooking it will be very dull and mat.

It is usually cooked in water and some cumin for 15 minutes; and yes it smells very strong! it has that silage sulfury aroma so be prepared- i was never aware of that until my sensory team told me so, am very used to the aroma-

You can define the flavors as you want, meaty or brothy, green or grassy, you just add or remove ingredients as you desire the overall flavor to be! i like it lightly seasoned with spices but intense in green fresh aromas (this comes from dill, parsley and tomatoes).

Cumin is an important spice to add! Some cook it in tomato sauce, am not fan of this method! Always eat it hot, you must try it. It is an experience you will love or hate.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

In Arabic: Waraq Enaab. Now this is very popular in the ladies societies and gatherings in Saudi! Comes in many sizes, seasonings, and toppings.

In some countries like Egypt it is considered a main course, in other countries it is either an appetizer or even served with tea and pastries.

The driver for it’s popularity is Unique Sourness, when the leaves and rice filling are cooked with lemon they deliver a unique profile of cooked sourness.

The grape leaves flavor is: Dry Herbal, Dusty, Henna like – don’t look for any grape notes there are none 🙂 – Olive oil blends very well with the leaves and lemon

Again, there are many ways to prepare & season it: spicy, pomegranate molasses, garlic, with meat minced or big parts. But again, i like original flavor, green lightly seasoned and extremely Sour!

Unlike Cabbage, Grape leaves are very acceptable even if you are trying them for the first time. Careful!! it is addictive

Stuffed Vegetables

This is officially a dish not an appetizer. Vegetables popular for stuffing are: Eggplant (white and black), Pepper (all colors), Zucchini, Potato, and Onion (the harder to stuff).

Usually it is cooked with chicken stock mixed with tomato sauce. Same stuffing for Cabbage can be used. The most wonderful fact about this dish is, the stuffing will taste different in each vegetable, even the stuffing mouth-feel will perceived different, in some it will be moist and viscous, in others will be slightly dry and less viscous.

If you want to take it to another dimension, try adding minced meat to stuffing, and cook it with Meat broth! Oh boy, am hungry now 🙁

So next time you come across any of these, stuff your tummy with them!

Have you ever tried any of the stuffed goods in this article? Tell us about your experience

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