the appetizer:

Though Turkish cuisine is a fusion of Turk, Arabic, Persian, Central Asian and Greek cuisines, there are also many regional differences in Turkey's cooking, from the Black Sea's corn and fish to the eastern region's mezes and kebabs.

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Zetinyagli Yaprak Dolmasi
(stuffed grape leaves cooked in olive oil)

Serves 12

8 large onions, grated
1/2 to 1 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons pine nuts
1 cup long grain rice, uncooked
1 medium can chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons currants
2 cups hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
1/2 to 2/3 pound grape leaves, preserved (drained weight)
1 lemon

Grate the onions finely in a food processor. Heat olive oil in a large pot, then fry the onions and pine nuts for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and cook for another five minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, currants, one cup hot water, and salt and pepper. Stir once, cover and simmer over very low heat until liquid is absorbed (20 to 25 minutes). Stir in finely chopped dill and let cool.

Rinse and drain grape leaves. Line a large, deep frying pan with torn leaves. Place a whole leaf on the table with the stem toward you, matte side up. Trim the stem if more than 1/4 inch long. Place a tablespoon of stuffing near the stem end and roll the leaf away from you to cover the stuffing. Then fold the sides of the leaf toward the center and finish rolling. Make a firm little roll.

Place the stuffed grape leaves in the frying pan, side-by-side; you may make two layers if necessary. Continue until you have used all the leaves. Pour one cup hot water and the juice of half a lemon over them. Cover with a plate, and put a lid on the frying pan. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Pour off excess water and let cool. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with lemon slices or wedges. Serve as an appetizer or as a separate (usually second) course with bread.


From Eat Smart In Turkey. Reprinted by permission of Ginkgo Press.


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This page modified January 2007