Stuffed Grape Leaves are popular in several Mediterranean countries and in the Middle East. It has different names depending on the region. The Greek call it dolmathes and the Lebanese and the Egyptians call it Mahshi Wara’ enab. These little meat and rice packages are tangy and flavorful and juicy and just really perfect for Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish or an appetizer that precedes the main course. While they aren’t difficult to make, they are time consuming. They take time and patience to roll but are generally gobbled up so fast, which is a reward for you as the chef.
Meat and rice stuffed grape leaves (Mahshi wara enab)
- Large Pot
For Stuffing (hashwa)
- 1½ cups egyptian or calrose rice (substitute other small or medium grain rice)
- 1 lb ground beef or lamb
- 1 onion finely minced
- 1 cup parsley finely chopped
- 1 cup cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tomato finely diced
- 2 tsp all spice
- 1 tsp aleppo pepper or chili flakes optional
- ½ tsp cardamon
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp kosher salt crystals half the amount if substituting coarse salt or table salt.
- black and white pepper freshly ground to taste.
For the leaves and pot
- 1 lb grape leaves
- 1 head garlic cloves peeled
- 4 cups chicken stock preferably homemade
- 3 lemons juiced
Optional additions to pot
- 1 medium potato thinly sliced
- 2 small tomatoes thinly sliced
- Mix together all ingredients for stuffing
For grape leaves
- Lay a grape leaf down on your work surface smooth side down. Snip off but reserve stem. Place about 1 tbsp of stuffing on the leaf.
- Tightly fold up bottom of leaves, then fold in each side, and roll upwards. Don’t use too much filling, smaller and tighter rolls are preferable. If your leaves are very large, cut them in half lengthwise and make two rolls from each large leaf.
- Begin lining pot with rolled grape leaves. Scatter stems and peeled garlic cloves throughout the pot as you go. When you are done, cover the rolled leaves with any extra leaves you may have.
Cooking grape leaves
- Season your chicken stock and add salt if necessary. Then pour stock over rolled leaves until they are just covered.
- Lay a plate down on top of the grape leaves to weigh them down. This ensures they remain submerged and do not unroll while cooking.
- Heat over medium-high heat until stick begins to boil. Once boiling turn down to low, cover, and cook for about an hour. They are done when the leaves are tender and easily pull apart with a fork.
- Once they seem done, add lemon juice and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let them sit 10-15 minutes.
- Remove and arrange the grape leaves on a platter (retain the cooking liquid for reheating leftovers). If you'd like to invert the pot onto a platter, carefully pour off most of the cooking liquid (but don't discard it!), cover the pot with the platter and invert.
- Serve with cucumber and yogurt salad.