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.
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).
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 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.
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.