Looking for how to get perfectly rolled, delicious vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves (aka Dolmas or Warak Enab)? Then you’ve come to the right place! This tutorial and recipe are all you need to make perfect, authentic ones each time. I’ve also included step-by-step instructions and a video to show you exactly how to fold them.
Flavor-packed Grape Leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and warm spices. It’s truly the most delicious and perfect vegetarian dish and appetizer ever!
Stuffed Grape Leaves, also known as Warak Enab in Arabic or Dolmas/Dolmades in Turkish and Greek. There are two versions of this: The veggies and rice version and the meat and rice version. Today, we’ll be making the most popular version across the Middle East i.e., the vegetarian version.
❤️ WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Versatile: This recipe can be easily adapted to various preferences. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a meat lover, you can customize the filling to your liking.
Delicious: The combination of tender grape leaves and delicious filling, consisting of rice, herbs, and spices, creates a burst of savory goodness in every bite.
Easy: Despite their intricate appearance, stuffed grape leaves are surprisingly easy to make. The rolling technique can be quickly mastered with a little practice. These stuffed grape leaves calories are low, 32 calories for one.
This delicious dish requires simple ingredients that you’ll be able to find easily.
Grape leaves: This is the star ingredient of this dish! For convenience, use the ones that come in a jar with brine.
Rice: We’ll use short-grain rice as the base of the stuffing (or Hashweh). It’s best to stick to short-grain rice for this recipe because it is starchier than long-grain rice and will allow the stuffing to stick together.
Lemon juice: This enhances the flavor of the Stuffed Grape Leaves and takes it to the next level.
Olive oil: Adds the perfect texture to the stuffing, which allows it to stay together.
Mint and parsley leaves: Fresh herbs take this delicious dish to the next level! We’ll be using chopped mint and parsley leaves in this stuffing.
We’ll also have to add thick slices of potatoes or onions to the bottom of the pan to make sure the grape leaves don’t burn. Additionally, on top of the stuffed grape leaves in the pot, we will add seven garlic cloves sliced in half.
Making these tasty Stuffed Grape Leaves is easier than you can imagine. It just takes a little bit of assembling. Watch the video in this post to learn more.
Preparing the grape leaves
Start by washing and then soaking the short-grain rice for 30 to 40 minutes. This will assist the dish to cook faster.
Soak the grape leaves in hot water for one minute. Remove them using a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel to remove excess water and brine.
Preparing the Stuffing (Hashweh)
In a large bowl, add all the stuffing ingredients (except the grape leaves and water or stock). Mix well, cover it, and let it sit for 10 minutes, then strain the mixture and keep the liquid from the mixture aside to use later.
Folding and Stuffing Dolmas (Warak Enab)
Place the leaves on a working surface. Let the rough side of the leaf face you. Cut the stem if there is any.
Depending on the size of the leaf, place one teaspoon of filling in the area above the stem. If the leaf is big, you can place up to 1 full tablespoon.
Fold the lower right side of the leaf over the filling and do the same to the left side.
Fold both sides of the leaf towards the center and then roll the leaf firmly toward the top.
Cooking the Stuffed Grape Leaves
Cover the bottom of the pot with thick slices of potatoes. Place the stuffed vine leaves on top seam side down. Distribute the garlic cloves on top of the last layer of the stuffed grape leaves.
Pour the liquid strained from the filling previously on the leaves. Now, pour the stock or water over the leaves. Place a heavy and heat-resistant plate smaller than the pot on the stuffed leaves. The water or stock should slightly cover the edges of the plate.
Cover the pan and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest and allow it to simmer for two hours and 45 minutes.
Let the Stuffed Grape Leaves come to room temperature or are at least warm to the touch before flipping them on a serving plate. If you remove the Stuffed Grape Leaves while they’re still hot, they will break.
👩🏽🍳 PRO TIPS
Rinse and soak your rice: Make sure to rinse and soak your rice before using it in the recipe. Soak the rice for at least 40 minutes, or until one grain can be broken by squeezing it between your index finger and thumb. This method ensures that your rice cooks evenly.
Don't overstuff the leaves: Don't stuff the grape leaves too tightly. Remember that the filling is primarily rice and will expand as it cooks.
Roll leaves securely: Roll the grape leaves securely enough to prevent them from unraveling or becoming undone while cooking.
Deseed the tomatoes: Remove the seeds from the tomatoes before chopping. Seeds give a bitter taste when cooked for a long time.
All-spice substitute: If you can’t get all-spice, replace it with half a teaspoon of cumin powder and half a teaspoon of coriander powder.
Don't use light olive oil: Don’t use light olive oil or olive oil mixed with another oil.
Taste ingredients before adding: Taste the lemon juice before adding it to the stuffing. If the lemon is bitter, that bitterness will overtake other flavors in this dish. Similarly, taste the grape leaves before stuffing them so you know how salty it is, and adjust the salt in the stuffing.
Add onion slices instead: Instead of the potato slices, you can add onion slices or a mixture of onion and potatoes. Some also use slices of meat or chicken. Adding this makes sure that the leaves don’t burn while cooking.
Use chicken stock instead of water: You can use chicken stock instead of water, but make sure that it is low in sodium since there is salt in the filling, and there will be some salt in the grape leaves (unless you are using fresh grape leaves.).
Pour boiling water over leaves: It is crucial that you pour boiling water or stock over the stuffed grape leaves before cooking them, or the cooking time will be much longer.
How to get rid of extra salt: If you have mistakenly added more salt than you wish, drain the excess water from the pot after cooking the grape leaves and replace it with boiling water. Make sure to cover the cooked stuffed grape leaves with boiling water and then add a plate or a weight on top of it. Let it boil for 5 minutes, and then drain that water and taste the stuffed grape leaves again. Repeat this step if you think the stuffed grape leaves are still salty.
Allow leaves to rest: Allow the stuffed grape leaves to rest for at least 40 minutes before flipping them. This will allow the stuffing and the grape leaves to get a little firmer and won’t break.
🍽️ HOW TO SERVE IT
- Serve it as an appetizer at a Mediterranean-themed dinner party. Arrange them on a platter and garnish with lemon wedges and fresh herbs for an elegant presentation.
- Pair stuffed grape leaves with a Greek salad for a light and refreshing lunch.
- Serve them alongside grilled meats, such as lamb or chicken.
- Create a mezze platter with various Mediterranean-inspired dishes, including hummus, tzatziki, and marinated olives.
- Pack the stuffed grape leaves for a picnic or as part of a lunchbox.
Store Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas / Warak Enab) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
You can also store them in the freezer. Once cooked and cooled, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Before serving, let them thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight.
📣 MORE MIDDLE EASTERN RECIPES
⭐PLEASE RATE AND REVIEW
If you have tried this recipe and liked it, please give it a 5-star rating and leave a comment below with your experience!
Stuffed Grape Leaves Made Easy
- 600 grams grape leaves or vine leaves from a jar
- 1 ¼ cup short grain rice
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup mint leaves chopped
- ½ cup parsley leaves chopped
- 1 large tomato peeled deseeded, and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon allspice powder use ½ teaspoon cumin and ½ teaspoon coriander powder as a substitute
- Enough boiling stock or water to cover the grape leaves. Details in the instruction below
- Slices of potatoes Place them at the bottom of the pot
- 7 garlic cloves sliced in half Add on top of the stuffed grape leaves.
- Wash the short-grain rice and soak it for 30 to 40 minutes, it will help the dish to cook faster.
- Dip the grape leaves in hot water for one minute. Place the leaves on paper towel to remove excess water.
- If the grape leaves are thick then add the leaves to boiling water, let the leaves boil for three minutes.
- In a bowl, add all the ingredients (except the grape leaves and boiling water), cover and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then strain the mixture and keep the liquid aside to use later.
- Place the leaves on a working surface. Let the rough side of the leaf face you. Cut the stem if there is any.
- Depending on the size of the leaf, place 1 teaspoon of filling in the area above the stem. If the leaf is big you can place up to 1 full tablespoon.
- Fold the lower right section of the leaf over the filling, do the same to the left section.
- Fold the right section toward the center, do the same to the left section. Roll the leaf firmly toward the top.
- Cover the bottom of the pan with thick slices of potatoes and a few grape leaves. Place the stuffed vine leaves on top seam side down. Distribute the garlic cloves on top of the stuffed grape leaves.
- When done, pour the liquid strained from the filling previously on the leaves.
- Pour the stock or water over the leaves, Place a heat resistance heavy plate that’s smaller than the pot on top of the leaves. The water or stock should slightly cover the edges of the plate.
- Cover the pot and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest and cook for two hours and 45 minutes. Check every few minutes to make sure there is still liquid, if all the liquid evaporates then add some more boiling water without seasoning it with salt.
- Let the stuffed leaves come to room temperature or at least warm to the touch before flipping it in a serving plate.
- When completely cool, place the stuffed leaves in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 7 days and can freeze it for up to 3 months.
- Please read the tips for making the best-stuffed grape leaves from the post above.
- Do not use coriander leaves instead of parsley. The dish will not taste right!
- Instead of potato slices, you can replace them with slices of meat (chicken or red meat).
- Don't use Jasmine rice for this recipe.
- A void using brown rice takes a longer time to cook, and you will end up with a mushy dish. Many ruined this dish by using brown rice.
- To save time, you can make the stuffing a day in advance. Place it in an airtight container and refrigerate.
- If you can only get fresh grape leaves, wash them and blanch them in boiling water, then drain them and pat them dry using a kitchen paper towel.
- I have used chicken stock since it adds great flavor, but you can use vegetable stock.
- If the grape leaves are thick or hard, boil them for 5 to 8 minutes and then use them.
- You can use dry or fresh mint in the stuffing.
- Do not cook the rice before adding it to the stuffing; you won't have enough starch, and it will turn out mushy.