Updated: May 13, 2020
These delicious stuffed Grape Leaves are often served as a cold appetizer. They are made with a variety of vegetables and herbs and are completely gluten free!
Throughout the different regions and cities of the middle east, this appetizer dish is made in many different ways. Often referred to as "Wara' Areesh" or "Warak Enab or yabra' bi zayt. Wara' means leaves, Enab means grapes, and Areesh means vines. Basically Grape Leaves! The way I grew up eating it is the Syrian recipe called Yalanji يالنجي and it is one of my favorite things to eat or snack on!
“I was always intimated to make this dish because it looked hard and time consuming. But during the Covid-19 stay at home orders, I had so much time on my hands and was determined to do make it! So I called my mom and got to work .”
These #Syrian style #vegetarian stuffed #grapeleaves are mainly made with tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint, lemon, short grain rice, ground coffee, spices, pomegranate molasses and the main ingredient is #LOVE. I am going to take you on a step by step instruction on how to make this recipe the way my mom taught me. Yalla, Let's go!
1. Prepare The Stuffing
The first thing you need to do is prepare all the main characters. Rinse and soak about 2 cups of short grain rice in water. Finely dice 2 large tomatoes, 2 large onions, hand full of fresh mint, about a cup and half of fresh parsley.
You will also need to prepare a few other ingredients that will go into this magical stuffing. Sumac, dried mint, salt, pepper, pomegranate molasses and a small teaspoon of finely ground espresso coffee or Arabic coffee. That is the secret sauce that gives this Syrian dish it's distinctive flavor!
2. Prepare The Grape Leaves
You can purchase the Grape Leaves from your local middle eastern market or get them on Amazon. I like the Orlando brand. They typically come in a jar. If you have fresh ones that is even better! But let's just stick with the jar for now. Take out the leaves and drain the salty water. Rinse a few times, then soak in hot water. Drain water and stack them in a bowl. Trim off the stem that is usually sticking out so the leaf can be nice and flat.
3. Cook the stuffing
In this step, we will saute the ingredients together but not fully cook them. Start out by placing 1/2 cup olive oil in a big skillet on medium heat. Add the onions and tomatoes plus all the dried ingredients : mint, salt, pepper, sumac, ground coffee. Add the pomegranate molasses and mix well. Cook together for about a minute then add the rice to the mixture. Mix until well combined. Turn off the stove and remove skillet from heat. Add chopped parsley and chopped fresh mint. Let it cool.
4. Let's Rock & Roll!
Cut a few potatoes and place at the bottom of a heavy pot.
Line the grape leaves on a flat surface or a big cutting board with the shinny side down. using a small spoon, scoop a little of the stuffing and place in the middle of the grape leave as shown in the picture.
Fold in the right and left sides first, then start rolling so the end result resembles a small egg-roll. This video will demonstrate the process.
5. Line them up
Line up the Rolled Grape Leaves inside the pot and on top of the potatoes.
Place cut up lemons on top. This will protect the grape leaves from the heavy lid and adds more flavor to your dish.
The next step is very important. In order to insure that the grape leaves will stay in place and not fall apart while cooking, you will need to place a heavy plate on top of them to press them down. Luckily, my #leCreuset smaller pot has a very heavy lid. I was able to remove the handle and use it as my heavy press.
6. Cooking the Grape Leaves
Mix about 4 cups of water with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Make sure the liquid covers the top of the heavy lid.
Bring to boil. Cover and cook for about One hour and a half on low.
Remove from heat, and let it cool to get to room temperature then arrange in a plate.
Photo Credit: Kinda Arzon Photography www.kindarzon.com
I would love to hear if you made this recipe