Dolmas, take 2 (+ haydari recipe)

After making the recipe for stuffed grape leaves (aka dolmas) from A Feast of Ice and Fire last week, we still had about half the grape leaves I had prepared left over, so my mother and I drained the water off them as best we could, shoved them into resealable bags, and left them in the fridge for later use. I was a little nervous about how long they would keep outside of the original brine, so I decided to make another batch of dolmas this afternoon, incorporating some of the suggestions I made to myself last time.

Raisins, peppers, and onions, all finely chopped.
Raisins, peppers, and onions, all finely chopped.

First of all, I used about half the amount of raisins as last time, as my parents both said they thought the first version was a little too sweet. Second, I didn’t have any mushrooms at home, and I didn’t feel like going to the store to get them, so I just chopped up an extra bell pepper in addition to one of our homegrown Anaheim chili peppers (that’s the green in the photo above).

These are the spices I experimented with adding.
These are the spices I experimented with adding.

Finally, I tried adding some spices to the cooking onion and peppers based on a recipe for Iraqi dolmas that I found online. I used the recipe as a rough guideline for what spices to add and the appropriate proportions, but I didn’t really measure. I probably used about 1 tsp cumin and 1/8 to 1/4 tsp everything else, basically experimenting until I thought the spice mixture would go well with lamb.

The very beginning of about an hour of rolling dolmas...
The very beginning of about an hour of rolling dolmas…

The filling mixture smelled soooooo good…but that was about my only consolation as I spent over an hour stuffing the grape leaves. I think the final result is even tastier than the last ones, but I still can’t see myself making these again for a long time.

So tasty.
So tasty.

One thing I didn’t post last time was the accompanying sauce. I found the recipe online, not from A Feast of Ice and Fire, and there’s no mention of such a sauce in the relevant scene of the books, but it’s apparently traditional in some parts of the Mediterranean to eat dolmas with a garlic-yogurt sauce, and I like it better than avgolemono (egg-lemon sauce), which is often served with Greek dolmathes. In any case, the kingdom of Dorne in A Song of Ice and Fire seems to share more similarities with Persia and Ottoman Turkey than with Greece, so I figure it’s kind of justified. Enjoy!

Haydari (Turkish Garlic-Yogurt Sauce)

Adapted from here.

1.5 c Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, more or less to taste (I used no salt)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried (or fresh, finely chopped) oregano
1/2 tsp dried (or fresh, finely chopped) mint
1/2 tsp dried (or fresh, etc.) basil or dill
Sumac for garnish (optional)

Whisk together the Greek yogurt and olive oil until smooth and creamy (you can do this with a fork). Add the salt and spices and continue whipping, so that the sauce reaches a uniform consistency. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving to allow the yogurt to set (you can skip this step if you don’t have time; the sauce will be looser). Optionally, sprinkle sumac on top before serving.

Serving suggestion: with dolmas, toasted bread, warm flatbread, or as a dip for vegetables.


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