It is one of the most common dishes around the middle eastern cuisine and every country has its own unique way to call them and/or cook them. I, personally, have tasted three types coming from 3 different different countries and I like them all. The dish of course is stuffed grape leaves. The Lebanese cuisine has them, the Egyptian as well, Moroccan, Turkish and of course the Greek cuisine among others, are all known for this dish. Whether you go to a Lebanese, Turkish, or Greek restaurant I am sure you will see it on their appetizer menu. Each cuisine has its own way of cooking it, serving it, and calling it.
Within Greece they even call it differently depending where you come from. We, coming from the north and being influenced very much by the neighbouring Turkey, call it Dolmadakia Yalantzi (Ντολμαδάκια Γιαλαντζί). In Turkey they call Yalanci Dolma. See the similarity? In other parts of Greece they go by the name Yaprakia (Γιαπράκια) or Dolmadakia (Ντολμαδάκια). Dolma means to be stuffed and although in Turkey it is used for any vegetable that is stuffed, including the grape leaves, in Greece dolma is used only for the grape leaves and for the cabbage stuffed rolls (that is another recipe we will show one day). All the others are called Gemista (Γεμιστά) which means stuffed. Yalantzi means fake. Why fake? Because they are! There is no meat in them :)
And we come to the what is in them and how different can it really get? Depending in which cuisine you find them they can get...pretty different. The ones I had in Lebanese restaurants where very sour because they used sumac spice - a red type of spice with acidic flavour - and spicy, probably because they used chilly. The ones in Turkey are also sour because they also use sumac spice, but not as spicy. However, they do have aromatic spices in them such as cinnamon. Finally, our stuffed grape leaves are more subtle. We make use of lots of herbs and instead of using sumac spice, we use lemon juice to make it a little sour. We always serve it with yogurt and personally it is one of my favourite vegetarian appetizers. Easy to make, once you get used to the way of rolling them, and easy to store in the fridge for a couple of days since they are eaten cold. We hope you enjoy making them as much as eating them! Try our version and let us know what you think.
Dia, Kostas, and Tony
Stuffed grape leaves
Ingredients for 8 people:
for more information on how to make stuffed grape leaves please click here
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The Greek cuisine