Cookbook Profile

Grape Leaves Stuffed with
Rice, Pine Nuts, and Currants

Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarmasi (Yalanci)
Serves 4-6


Grape Leaves Stuffed with Rice This is a popular summer meze along the Aegean Coast and the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. These stuffed grape leaves are very good served with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

This recipe is called yalanci, which means "fake," because the rice, pine nuts, and currants are substitutes for meat in the stuffing.


1 (16-ounce) jar grape leaves, drained
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Lemon wedges
Tomato wedges
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

3 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Soak the currants in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. Drain them and set them aside.

To prepare the grape leaves, bring 2 quarts water to a boil, unroll the grape leaves, and place then in the boiling water for 2 minutes to soften the leaves and rid them of the brine. Using a slotted spoon, remove the leaves from the water and drape them over the edge of a colander to drain. With a sharp knife, cut out the small protruding stem from each leaf. Set the grape leaves aside.

To make the stuffing heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heart, and cook the pine nuts for about 2 minutes, until they're golden brown. Add the currants, onion, rice sugar, cinnamon, and 2 cups hot water. Stir the mixture, cover the pot, and cook gently for about 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the dill and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the stuffing cool for 30-40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To assemble the sarmas, line up 36 of the grape leaves side by side, vein side up and with the notch where you removed the stem closest to you. Place one tablespoon of the stuffing at the end of the leaf close to you fold the end nearest to you over the filling, then fold both sides of the leaf over the filling. Roll up the leaves-but not too tightly or they will burst.

Line a flameproof casserole dish with half the remaining grape leaves. Arrange the sarmas on top of the leaves, seam-side down. Pour 2 cups hot water, the olive oil, and the lemon juice over them. Cover the sarmas with the remaining grape leaves. Place crumpled wet parchment paper over the grape leaves, and weight it down with an ovenproof plate (one small enough to fit inside the dish). Cover the dish, and on the stovetop over medium heat bring the liquid to a boil (about 5 minutes). Move the dish to the oven and cook gently for about 45 minutes, or until the sarmas are tender and the water has been absorbed.

Transfer the sarmas to a serving dish. Cover them and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Garnish with lemon wedges, tomatoes, and chopped parsley.

Buy the Book!


The Sultan's Kitchen
By Ozcan Ozan
Periplus Editions
Hardback, $29.95
ISBN: 962-593-223-2
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


The Sultan's Kitchen



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This page created October 1999