DOLMA

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DOLMA (STUFFED VEGETABLES)

Dolma has an important place in Turkish cuisine. It is one of the dishes that is made in almost every region of Turkey. The history of the Dolma dates back to the Central Asian Turks. The Turks at that time hid their food after they have gone to agricultural order. The abundant food in the summer was dried to be consumed in the winter, including vegetables. They dried for making stuffed food. Today, this tradition is still going on and preparing the dolma is a ritual for many Turkish houses to gather the family around a big table. Turkish people love stuffing vegetables. The word dolma is used for the vegetables like aubergines, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes that can be stuffed. Stuffed tomatoes are especially a staple of the summer season when tomatoes are abundant and at their peak.

A simple recipe is as follows:

3 medium size bell peppers – or 5-6 small bell peppers

4 medium tomatoes

6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed

For the filling:

110gr/4oz/ 1/2 cup ground beef/lamb or ground turkey

115gr/4oz/generous 1/2 cup wholegrain basmati rice, rinsed

2 medium onion, grated

Bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

10ml/1tbsp olive oil

10ml/2 tsp dried mint

10ml / 2 tsp ground black pepper

Salt

For the sauce:

The flesh of the scooped tomatoes, finely chopped

15 ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

15ml/1 tbsp. red pepper paste or tomato paste

Red pepper flakes to serve

Bowl of natural or garlicky yoghurt to serve

Put the ground meat in a large bowl and stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. Season and knead, until all blended well. Then, cut the stalk ends of the peppers and save them aside. Scoop out the seeds of the peppers. Slice the tops of the tomatoes and save them aside. Using a spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh, chop them finely and reserve in a bowl. Take care not to pierce through the skin of the tomatoes. Take a few spoonfuls of the filling and pack it into the vegetables, until they are about ¾ full. Take care not to overfill to the top, as the rice filling will need some space to expand. Place the stalk ends and tomato tops as lids. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in to a heavy pan.  Place the stuffed vegetables upright, packed tightly, in the pan. For the sauce; combine the chopped tomato flesh with 1 tbsp. red pepper paste or tomato paste and stir in to the pan. Then pour a couple of cups of water around the stuffed vegetables, until it covers just about the half of vegetables. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir in the cloves of garlic and cover. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the filling cooke. Once cooked, serve hot with plain natural or garlic yoghurt by the side.

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