Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves (Warak Enab) are widespread in several Mediterranean countries and in the Middle East. It has numerous names depending on the province. The Greeks call it Dolmathes/Dolmas and the Egyptian and the Lebanese call it Mahshi Wara’ inab/Mahshi Wrak enab/Warak enab. Indeed, Grape Leaves; an old Ottoman dish with history and origin also known as stuffed vine leaves, arish leaves, dolma, sarma or ylangi is a turkish appetizer dish of rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice, vegetables, spices, and other nutritious ingredients. Grape leaves are stuffed with vegetables, rice, minced meat, flavorings, and spices. The ingredients of the vine leaf filling differ from each country to another, including stuffed cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat, and it is called sarma in the Balkan countries, and in Palestine and Jordan it is called varicose veins, and in Syria it is Yabraq, and it is called in Egypt Mahshi, in Iraq and Algeria It is called yarbak dolma in Azerbaijan, and it consists of vegetables stuffed with carrots, zucchini, potatoes and peppers and cooked with red broth and chickpeas. The stuffed grape leaves generally consist of vine leaves; cabbage, eggplant or zucchini and stuffed with rice mixture. And yalanji is a type of dolma that is free from meat and is replaced with chopped vegetables or legumes and cooked with oil instead of ghee. The name “Yabraq” comes from the Turkish language, “Yaburaq” or “Yabaraq”, which means leaves of trees in general, or leaves of vines (grapes) in particular. As for yalanji, it is a type of grape leaf without meat.The Arabs took grape leaves from the Turks during the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth century AD.
Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves (Warak Enab)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 1/2 cups short grain rice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 jar grape leaves about 60-70 in brine
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes sliced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice,
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Prepare Hashweh (the Stuffing)
- In a heated large pan, cook ground beef until browned with olive oil. Season with salt and ground allSpice.
- Add uncooked rice to the cooked ground beef, then drizzle some cinnamon powder and ground black pepper. Mix well until everything is combined.
Preparing the Grape Leaves
- Drain grapevine leaves from the jar and steep them in a large bowl of water.
- Mildly separate the leaves and wash them individually. Pile those leaves on a dish and keep them aside. Best, if you cover them with a moist cloth so they don't dry out until you are ready to start rolling them.
Stuff, Wrap and Cook
- Place a grape leaf vein-side up on a large plate or cutting board. Using a small paring knife, cut the small stem off. scoop out a heaping teaspoon of the rice mixture into the center of the grape leaf. Spread into a thin line leaving enough room on both sides of the leaf for rolling. Carefully fold in the sides and roll it like you would when making a wrap.
- Repeat until all the stuffing has been used and place the wrapped grape leaves in a tray.
- The trick is to roll it tightly enough so that it doesn't loosen while cooking, but not too tightly since the rice needs room to expand as it cooks.
- Line the bottom of a large pot with tomatoes and/or potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Neatly arrange the stuffed and rolled grape leaves in rows, alternating directions, to completely cover the circumference of the pot. Drizzle each layer with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place a plate about 1-2 inches smaller in diameter than the pot, cover the stuffed leaves. This will hold them down and prevent floating while they are cooking.
- Fill the pot with enough water to cover all the leaves and up to the plate. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and season with a remaining half teaspoon of salt. Cover the pot and cook on medium to high heat until boiling.
- Reduce to medium-low heat and cook for 45min to 1 hour. To check if grape leaves are done, take a grape leaf out and try it.
- Once the grape leaves are done cooking, remove from heat and let cool uncovered for 30 minutes. Flip the pot over onto a serving platter. There should be very little lemon water left. Serve warm!