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HOLIDAYS, GREEK CUISINE and COOKING
GREEK CHRISTMAS: WHAT IS ONE OF THE NATIONAL DISHES?
GREEK CHRISTMAS: WHAT IS ONE OF THE NATIONAL DISHES?

DOLMADES WITH AMBELOFYLLA IS THE ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS DISH

and as such, we’d love to share all of its secrets with you so to enjoy with your loved ones. The dolma family includes a wide range of vegetarian or not options, usually with rice as the basic ingredient, and wrapped in grape leaves or cabbage leaves. The Greek cuisine blended with Turkish culture for the birth of this very popular Mediterranean meze dish.

The tradition: According to expert resources of the field, the ancient Greeks referred to “dolmadakia” as “Thria” and used  fig leaves to make them. During Enlightenment period, history reveals a secret behavior adopted by Greek scholars. To motivate and encourage enslaved Greeks, they would hide inspiring quotes by intellectuals within the dolmades! They’re also known as “yalanci,” which is translated as fake in Turkish, suggesting that a dish without meat is not a real meal.

What vine leaves are: Raw grape leaves count as the weekly intake of dark green leaves, which according to the United States Department of Agriculture, is 2 cups for men and 1.5 cups for women. Grape leaves, despite their low-calorie content (just 13 calories per cup), are a rich source of important nutrients.

NutritionData highlights the leaves’ nutritional value, stating that they are low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. At the same time, they are loaded in dietary fiber, Vitamins A, C, E and K as well as iron among others. The 1.5grams of fibre per cup means that they can fill you up while staying low in calories.

Despite the wide range of names it might come by, this Christmas meze has a clear identity, promising to surprise your guest with strong, warm flavors. Cooking the original yaprakia it’s a great activity to do with your kids, as more or less, all professional or not chefs have probably learned the technique from their grandma.

Health Benefits of Grape Leaves

Dolmades may take some time to roll but they are totally worth the effort!

Ingredients: juice of 2 lemons, 1 sliced fresh onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, 1/2 cup chopped dill, 2 pounds minced beef or pork, a jar of vine leaves, 2 pounds rice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 cups water, salt and pepper to taste

This traditional dish may be broken down into three simple stages. The vine leaves must first be prepared. You may use either jarred or fresh vine leaves. The filling for the dolmades is the second phase. The rice, along with herbs and seasoning, is cooked until parboiled at this point. The final step is to roll them out and cook them. The most difficult part of the recipe is rolling the dolmades.

Step-by-step

  • Prepare the vine leaves first. Rinse the vine leaves, remove the stems, and drain them using a colander. If using fresh vine leaves, carefully wash them before removing the stems and boil them before letting them cool off.
  • To prepare the filling, rinse the rice and in a large saucepan, heat 1/3 of the olive oil and the chopped onion over medium heat. Add the rice and cook for a minute or so. Then, add 2 cups of boiled water, plus half of the lemon juice, and simmer until all water has been absorbed. Add the herbs, the seasoning, whisk and set aside to cool down.
  • Next step is the rolling and arrangement of the dish. In a large pot, fill the bottom with the ripped vine leaves. Then, in a flat surface, place a vine leaf, add 1 tsp of the rice filling at the center, and start rolling from the bottom up to the center. When you reach that point, flip the left and the right side of the leaf towards the center, and continue rolling gently. Place the dolmadaki in that pan, creating layers without leaving gaps. Also, don’t overfill with rice as it will expand during cooking.
  • After preparing the content of the pot, drizzle over the dolmades the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place a place upside down on top of them to keep and pour in just enough water to cover them. Cook for around 30-40 mints, or until all water has been absorbed.
  • Remove the lid and let it aside to cool.