I’m quite happy today, because I just received a job offer, one that is related to my profession. I already have loads of other work stuff to do, but I am very much inclined to quit everything else and accept this one.
Anywayz, other than the good news, the “Eid” has passed already and we of course visited my parents and in-laws in Gallipoli and Corlu. On the eve of the Eid I made a cake with damson plums and stuffed sun dried vegetables in olive oil. I took them to Gallipoli with me hoping to be the star of the family gathering. I don’t know if I succeeded but everybody seemed quite satisfied with both the dolma and the plum cake.
I had bought the sun dried vegetables from Kahramanmaras last month. I also took pictures of the home-prepared ones that my cousin was in the process of drying. She hung those carved vegetables on her balcony on a clean thread and everyday around noon time she covered the vegies with a huge clean cloth to avoid any discoloration from the direct sunlight for around 2 weeks until they dry out completely.
Here’s how to stuff the dolma and prepare one of the best cold dishes of Turkish cuisine:
Ingredients (makes around 55-60 dolmas):
3 liters of boiling water, salted
55-60 pieces of carved and sun dried vegetables, zucchini, capsicums, eggplants, cucumbers…etc
3 medium-large onions, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup of olive oil
3 cups of rice (or 1 level tablespoon for each dolma), washed and drained
1 teaspoon of ground blackpepper
1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of sumac
1 tablespoon of dried mint flakes
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 + 1/4 cup of pomegranate syrup (replace with 2 cups of pomegranate juice if not available, reduce water amount accordingly)
1 cup + 3 cups of boiling water
2 tablespoons of salt
Boil all the carved and dried vegetables starting with the zucchini, continue with the capsicums and finally boil the eggplants all in separate batches, for around 15-20 minutes until almost-cooked, check with a fork if necessary. Remove with a slotted spoon and soak in cold water for 10 seconds to preserve the color.
In a steel pot (remember, a steel cookware is a must when making olive oil dishes, it tastes a hundred times better that way), cook the onions with 1/2 cup of olive oil on low heat until they turn pinkish yellow and add in the rice, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, sumac and roast 2-3 minutes until the flavors are released. Add in the mint, parsley, 1/4 cup of pomegranate syrup and 1 cup of boiling water. Turn the heat off once the rice absorbs all the water.
Stuff each piece of carved vegetables with 1 heaped tablespoon of this rice filling. Make sure you leave at least one cm empty inside every dolma to avoid overflow. Line the dolmas horizontally in a wide steel pot, for no more than 3 layers. It’s better if you line them parallel to the sides of the pot, and place the filled bottoms on top of the open sides. Cover with a round heavy heat-proof plate. There is something called a “dolma stone” here in Turkey for this specific purpose, to keep the dolma intact and beautiful while cooking. It looks like this:
After placing the plate, mix in the remaining water, olive oil, salt and pomegranate juice. Add the liquid mix over the dolmas. Bring to boil, cover and simmer on very low heat until cooked for around 30-40 minutes. Check with the tip of a fork if the vegies are cooked and more importantly make sure the rice filling is cooked well, a bit further than al dente. Remove from the heat, take out the plate carefully with a tea towel. Remove any excess liquid. Put the lid back on and let the pot sit on the kitchen counter overnight. Serve the next day at the room temperature. Add more pomegranate syrup if desired.