Saturday, December 6, 2008

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Warak enab mehshi) in Arabic "ورق عنب محشي" is a middle eastern dish that can be served as a side dish or a main dish. At restaurants it is usually served as a side dish (Mezzi), but when cooked at home it is mostly considered as a main dish. Warak enab is famous in Lebanon, ٍSyria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and Iraq which is called Dolma. Here is a step by step recipe on how to make warak enab. Cinnamon and mint seasoning make this version of a popular eastern Mediterranean food typically Lebanese.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Ib. fresh tender vine leaves
  • 2 cups ground or chopped meat, preferably lamb
  • Several meat bones
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 8 garlic cloves crushed with salt
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp. dried mint
Preparation:
  1. Soften and blanch vine leaves by dipping a few at a time in boiling, salted water. Set aside.
  2. Wash rice and mix with ground meat, chopped tomato, salt, pepper, cinnamon and one half cup cold water.
  3. Stuff one leaf at a time. Place a teaspoon of stuffing in the center of each. Fold the bottom of the leaf up over the stuffing, then fold from each side to the middle. Roll tightly to form a cylinder about three inches long and somewhat thicker than a cigar.
  4. Place layer of bones in pressure cooker and cover with sliced tomatoes and the whole garlic.
  5. Arrange rolls side by side in layers on the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Add water. Cook under pressure 12 minutes. Simmer uncovered to reduce sauce. Mix one half cup of the sauce with crushed garlic and mint. Sprinkle this over the mahshi and simmer a few more minutes to enhance flavor.
  6. Remove mahshi carefully from cooking pan. Cool fingers in cold water to facilitate handling the hot rolls.
  7. Arrange on platter.
  8. Serve hot with bowl of the sauce.
Remark: Cook without pressure if you prefer. Prepare as above. Arrange mahshi over layer of bones and sliced tomatoes. When all has been added, press down firmly with palm of the hand.
Add water to cover, salt, and cook about an hour, or until leaves are tender and the stuffing is well cooked. Sprinkle with lemon juice, minced garlic and dried mint. Simmer few more minutes.

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