|Course||Meze or main dish|
|Region or state||Countries of the former Ottoman Empire, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Iran, Central Asia, Mongolia|
|Serving temperature||Cold or hot|
|Main ingredients||Stuffed peppers, Vine leaf, Rice|
Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes common in the Middle East and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the Caucasus, Russia, Central Asia, as well as Cyprus. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, and garlic. The stuffing may or may not include meat. Meat dolmas are generally served warm, often with egg-lemon or garlic yogurt sauce; meatless ones are generally served cold. Stuffed vegetables are also common in Italian cuisine, where they are named ripieni ("stuffed").
Dishes of grape or cabbage leaves wrapped around a filling are also called dolma or yaprak dolma 'leaf dolma' in many cuisines, or may be distinguished as sarma.
Names and etymology
Dolma, Ottoman Turkish طولمه, is a verbal noun of the Turkish verb dolmak, 'to be stuffed', and means 'stuffed (thing)'. Dolma is a stuffed vegetable, that is, a vegetable that is hollowed out and filled with stuffing. This applies to zucchini, tomato, pepper, eggplant, and the like; stuffed mackerel, squid, and mussel are also called dolma.
Dishes involving wrapping leaves such as vine leaves or cabbage leaves around a filling are called sarma, though in many languages the distinction is usually not made.
In some countries, the usual name for the dish is a borrowing of dolma, e.g. Armenian տոլմա [tolˈmɑ] or դոլմա [dolˈmɑ], or of yaprak (Turkish 'leaf'), in others it is a calque, and sometimes the two coexist with distinct meanings: Albanian: japrak; Arabic: محشي maḥshi ('stuffed'), محشي ورق عنب (maḥshī waraq 'inab, 'stuffed grape leaf'); Persian: دلمه,"dolme", برگ "barg"; Greek: ντολμάς dolmas (for the leaf-wrapped kind) and γεμιστά yemista 'stuffed'; Kurdish: dolma (دۆلمە), yaprakh (یاپراخ). In Aleppo, the word يبرق yabraq refers to stuffed vine leaves, while محشي maḥshī refers to stuffed cabbage leaves and stuffed vegetables.
The filling generally consists of rice, minced meat or grains. In either case, the filling includes onion, herbs like dill, mint or parsley and spices. Meatless fillings are cooked with olive oil and include raisins or currants, onion, nuts or pulses.
In Armenian cuisine, both wrapped and stuffed dolma are made. Wrapped dolma may use grape or cabbage leaves: tpov tolma թփով տոլմա or kaghambi tolma կաղամբի տոլմա. Stuffed dolma may use eggplants (sometimes parboiled or pre-fried), potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, quince and apples. Stuffings typically include lamb, beef, or pork, or a mixture, combined with rice and herbs such as basil, oregano, or tarragon; sometimes chestnuts and peas are also included. Typical seasonings include coriander, dill, mint, pepper, cinnamon and melted butter. "Lean" dolma pasuts dolma is vegetarian, and made with lentils, red kidney beans, peas, bulgur (բլղուր), fried onions, and tomato paste. Yogurt with crushed garlic is often used as a sauce. Often, several stuffed vegetables are cooked together.
In Azerbaijan, small portions of minced lamb meat (or lamb-and-beef) are mixed with leek and rice. They may be wrapped into grape or cabbage leaves, or be stuffed into eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, apples or quince. The most common varieties of the Azerbaijani dolma are yarpaq dolması (grape leaf dolma), kələm dolması (cabbage leaf dolma), pomidor dolması (tomato dolma), badımcan dolması (eggplant dolma), bibər dolması (green pepper dolma), yalançı dolma (lit. "false dolma"; meat replaced by rice), hornbeam-Pip dolması (meat wrapped into linden leaves picked up in mid-May), dali dolma (meat mixed with rice, peas, rapontica, dill and/or mint and stuffed into eggplants), ləvəngi dolması (originated in the Talysh region; sour plum paste, grained nuts, onion stuffed in chicken, fish, or eggplant), şirin dolma (lit. "sweet dolma"; meat mixed with chestnuts, plums and concentrated grape juice, and wrapped into cabbage leaves). Sour clotted milk is used as a sauce
In Bangladesh and the West Bengal state in India, pointed gourd (পটল/pôţol, Trichosanthes dioica) is used for stuffing fish, meat, or vegetables and goes by the name of dolma or the local variant dorma. A mixture of poppy seeds, grated coconut, raisins and/or shrimp is commonly used for stuffing. During the times of the Muslim rulers, (who were known as the Nawabs of Bengal), this dish came to the region with its Turkish name, with the only noticeable change being the vegetable used for stuffing.
In Cypriot cuisine, stuffed vine leaves are called koupepia (Greek: κουπεπια) in Greek and "dolma" in Turkish. In Greek, other stuffed vegetables are called gemista 'stuffed things' or dolmades (plural of dolma). Meatless versions are called orfana 'orphan'; this may be for fasting or when stuffing zucchini flowers.
In Egypt, dolma is called Mahshi Wara' inab. Unlike other Levant or Turkic countries, dolma in Egypt is eaten hot, not as an appetizer, but could be part of a main dish. It usually has a certain mixture (khaltat mahshi) that is made of rice, tomato sauce, and little chops of onions and parsley as a stuffing. Dolma in Egypt, unlike other countries, is very small, that you could eat two in one bite. Not only grape leaves are used to make mahshi in Egypt, but also tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, and cabbage. They also use lettuce, but they cook the stuffing only, not the lettuce then wrap it. Potatoes and artichokes are used, but aren't stuffed with the khaltat mahshi, but they are stuffed with mixture of mutton and tomato sauce, potatoes and artichokes (mahsi bataatis and mahshi kharshouf) aren't a preferred type of mahshi for vegetarians.
In Greek cuisine, dolma usually refers to the vine-leaf version, and there are many variations. Some serve them with an avgolemono (egg and lemon) sauce, others prefer a tomato sauce. They can be cooked in a pan in the oven, while others prefer to cook them on the stovetop.
In Iran, the mixture of ground lamb or beef, rice, split yellow peas, and savory herbs is used as the filling, wrapped either in grape vine leaves (dolmeh barg mo - دلمه برگ مو), cabbage leaves (dolmeh kalam - دلمه کلم), eggplant or aubergine (dolmeh bādenjān - دلمه بادنجان), tomato (dolmeh gojeh farangi - دلمه گوجهفرنگی), or in bell peppers (dolmeh felfel - دلمه فلفل).They also use lettuce, but they cook the stuffing only, not the lettuce then wrap it. Potatoes and artichokes are used, but aren't stuffed with the khaltat mahshi, but they are stuffed with mixture of mutton and tomato sauce, potatoes and artichokes (mahsi bataatis and mahshi kharshouf) aren't a preferred type of mahshi for vegetarians. It is believed that dolmeh has introduced in Persian cuisine from Greek traditional ντολμά.
In Iraq, the mixture of ground lamb or beef with rice is usually made with many different fillings in the same preparing pot, as well as pomegranate juice, prominently used by the North-Iraqis to give it a unique taste. The Assyrians of Iraq may either call it dolma or yaprekh which is the Syriac term for stuffed grape leaves. Iraqi Arabs usually served dolma without yoghurt. Often chicken or beef ribs are added to the cooking pot, and sometimes served with the dolma instead of masta or khalwah. Iraqi dolma is usually always cooked and served in a tomato-based sauce. In Mosul Dolma is a very popular food. In mosul they also include courggetes, tomatoes, onions, peppers and grape leaves. They are occasionally smoked.
In Israel, vine leaves are commonly stuffed with a combination of meat and rice, although other fillings, such as lentils and ptitim, have evolved among the various Jewish, Arab and Armenian communities. Israelis are using tomato sauce, tahini sauce or date syrup (called Silan in Israel) while cooking their stuffed vegetables. Israeli are sometimes are also stuffing vegetables with yogurts and cheeses but without mixture of meat.
In Jordan stuffed grape leaves are called Dawali or Warag Enab.
In Lebanon, stuffed vegetables are called "mehshi" and the grape leaf ("warak"), cabbage ("malfouf") and eggplant ("sheik") forms are the most common. Lamb and rice are traditional fillings; olive oil is often used to moisten or secure the wraps. They are often eaten with yogurt.
In the Palestinian Territories, stuffed grape leaves are called "Warak Dawali" in Arabic and are stuffed with parsley rice and ground beef or lamb.
In Romania, sarma are wrapped either in grape leaves (sarmale în foi de viţă), in cabbage leaves (sarmale în foi de varză) or in bell peppers (ardei umpluţi). They are often eaten with hot mămăliga and sour cream or yogurt.
In Sweden, Kåldolmar is a Swedish dish inspired by dolma, probably brought to Sweden by king Charles XII who was held captive by the Turks in Bender after losing the Battle of Poltava against the Russians. It is made of cabbage instead of grape leaves and contains minced pork or beef and rice. It is eaten with boiled potatoes, brown sauce and lingonberry jam.
In Turkey, there are two main categories of dolma; those filled with a meat mixture: minced meat ("kıyma"), onion, pinenut, rice, oil and some spices; and those filled with a rice mixture (without meat): rice, olive oil, pinenuts, currants (or dried figs/cherries), herbs (fresh parsley, dill and mint) and spices (usually allspice, cinnamon and black pepper). Meat dolma is always eaten hot; meatless ones, "zeytinyağlı dolma" (dolma with olive oil) - "yalancı dolma" (false dolma), usually at room temperature, as a meze with lemon sauce.
Turkish dolma with meat is a main course and is always served with yogurt, normally garlic-yogurt. An egg-milk based sauce is sometimes used for yaprak sarma with meat in some regions. In others (for example Tokat, Black Sea region), a natural tomato sauce is served on the plate. Common types include peppers (biber dolma), eggplant/aubergine (patlıcan dolma), artichoke ("enginar dolması"), zucchini/courgette (kabak dolma), plum (erikli dolma), collard greens (karalahana dolma), vine, chard and cabbage leaves (lahana sarma), zucchini flowers (çiçek dolma) or sun-dried eggplant dolma (Gaziantep). Tomatoes, pumpkin and some fruits such as quince, apple or melon are also used to make dolma in Turkish cuisine.
Mumbar dolması is a type of dolma for which the intestines of sheep are filled with a mixture of rice and meat and bean. In some regions rice is replaced or mixed with bulgur (pounded wheat). The inner part of some vegetables or fruits (which are hollowed out) can be added into the filling. Another special chapter must be opened for "dolmas" of fish and seafood in the Turkish cuisine, like mussels (midye dolma), filled squids ("kalamar dolma") and filled mackerel ("uskumru dolma").
- Gosetti (1967), passim
- Merriam-Webster Online - Dolma
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- “դօլմա” in Stepʿan Malxaseancʿ, Hayerēn bacʿatrakan baṙaran (Armenian Explanatory Dictionary), in 4 vols, Yerevan: State Publishing House of the Armenian SSR, 1944-45
- Ansky, Sherry, and Sheffer, Nelli, The Food of Israel: Authentic Recipes from the Land of Milk and Honey, pg. 76, Hong Kong, Periplus Editions (2000) ISBN 962-593-268-2
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- Gosetti Della Salda, Anna (1967). Le ricette regionali italiane (in Italian). Milano: Solares.