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  • Writer's pictureKyveli Papaioannou

The Art of Rolling: Dolmades and the Tapestry of Life

Updated: Dec 21, 2023


 a plate with Dolmades

Whenever my mother used to prepare Dolmades, I would sit by her side, carefully sorting the grape leaves – the large ones on one side, the small ones on the other. I would handle each leaf individually, delicately unfolding the edges that had curled from the hot water, arranging them on a plate to make them appear larger and more appealing.

My mother would take each leaf, add a spoonful of filling, and skillfully roll it up, placing it snugly against the pot's wall. Slowly, the pot's interior would fill, starting a new circle within until the entire bottom was covered.

As I put these words to paper, I reflect on the cycles that life follows, where each, smaller than the last, guides us toward our core. Circles of people, recurring events, patterns of behavior leading to the same impasses, until we recognize our own accountability and gradually unravel one 'dolma' at a time – the pattern we adhere to.

The recipe of Dolmades that follows features ground beef and rice. In various Eastern cultures, they use different meats such as lamb, pork, and beef to create a more aromatic and tender filling. Regardless of your choice, when you use the spices outlined in the recipe below, the taste is truly exceptional, so much so that it justifies the effort and time you invest. Gather around a table, each with a small plate in front of you, and embark on the rolling process. It may also provide an opportunity for emotions and care, often left behind in the hustle of life, to be expressed.

Best of luck!"



women around a table to roll dolmades


👩‍🍳 Ingredients for Dolmades:


For the filling of Dolmades🍃

  • 350gr grape leaves (fresh or jarred)

  • 300g minced meat (beef or lamb)

  • 1/2 cup rice ( Parboiled Rice or Carolina)

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 3 spring onions

  • 3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

  • 3 tablespoons fresh peppermint, minced

  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

  • 1 tomato

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 2 cups meat or vegetable broth

  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Avgolemono of Dolmades🍋

  • 1 cup of the dolmades broth

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons corn flour

  • Salt and pepper, to taste


🔪 Instructions for Dolmades:


  • Start by rinsing the grape leaves and blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes. This will soften them. Drain and set aside.


a dish with grape leaves for Dolmades

  • In a large bowl combine the ingredients for the filling of Dolmades. Mix well with your hands, ensuring that the herbs have incorporated evenly in the mixture.


A bowl with a mixture of minced meat and herbs for Dolmades

  • Place a grape leaf flat on a work surface (shiny side down), and add a small spoonful of the meat and rice mixture near the stem.


women around a table to roll dolmades

  • Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling, then roll it up tightly like a little burrito.

  • Continue this process with the remaining grape leaves and filling.


a woman roll dolmades

  • Place the Dolmades in a large pot, seam side down, and place it against the wall of the pot in a single layer. Gradually, the wall would fill, starting another circle inward until the entire bottom of the pot was covered. Stack them, with the same process, if needed.


Dolmades arranged in a pot

  • Pour the lemon juice, and the broth over the Dolmades, making sure they're covered.

  • Place a plate on top of the Dolmades to keep them from unraveling during cooking.

  • Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the Dolmades are tender.

  • In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Whisk in the corn flour until it dissolves. Take some broth juice from the Dolmades and add it gradually to the bowl while mixing quickly. Continue this process until almost all of the juice is mixed with the egg mixture. Then, pour the egg mixture back into the pot and gently shake the pot with your hands to ensure that the liquid mixes well with the Dolmades. Avoid using a spoon, as it may cause the Dolmades to break apart.

  • Remove from heat and serve immediately

🍽️ You can serve your homemade Dolmades with a dollop of Greek yogurt for a delightful Mediterranean feast that will transport your taste buds to Greece!

Opa! 🇬🇷🍷



a plate with Dolmades

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