Dolmadakia (ντολμαδάκια-με-κιμά)

Update, Feb.14th/08:

A question was asked about how to approach making Dolmadakia if one has fresh grape leaves on hand. One simply boils the leaves in salted water (blanching) for 3-4 minutes and remove the stem before making the parcels. This instruction plus how to jar your own leaves are nicely laid out here.

Dolmadakia (little Dolmades) are delicate little parcels made from grape (vine leaves). The name comes from the Turkish word “Dolma” or “stuffed”. They are usually stuffed with rice and other various fillings as a vegetarian option or more commonly served with rice, ground meat and herbs.

Again, as a child I was not a fan of Dolmades but I’m so glad to be blessed with being open-minded and pragmatic about many things, including food (I’m still waiting for someone to convert me to liver & onions).

Practically everyone I’ve met who’s enjoyed Greek food has eaten Dolmades. I’m going to show you the most common recipe, with rice and ground beef.

I’m also going to show you how to roll the Dolmades into parcels and a slightly different way to cook them. If you search other Dolamades recipes, you’ll see that most employ the stove-top method whereas, my mom insists the oven works better and there’s no need to use a plate to weigh down your dolmades.

Your first task will be to find grape (vine) leaves at the market. Look for them in jars in the ethnic/international aisle in your supermarket or a Greek-owned market, or Middle-eastern market. I’ve also seen the leaves at Gourmet stores but you’ll be paying extra cash for what’s basically the same product everywhere.

Dolmades are great served as part of a buffet spread if you’re expecting lots of family or friends at your home. They can be served as an appetizer (meze) or as a main course. What’s the difference between the appetizer and the main? About 6 more Dolmades on your plate!

Dolmadakia 

30 grape leaves (fresh or jarred)
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 bunches of scallions, fine chop
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Approx. 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup tomato puree
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Avgolemeno Sauce
2 eggs
juice of half a lemon
2 Tbsp. flour

  1. Prepare an ice water bath and set aside.
  2. To prepare grape leaves, bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat, add grape leaves, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes (depending upon the size of the leaves) or until leaves are tender but still hold their shape.
  3. Remove grape leaves from the water and submerge them in the ice water bath. Allow the leaves to cool for 5 minutes and then strain.
  4. Using a paring knife, remove the stem from each vine leaf and reserve. Let’s move on to preparing the filling.
  5. In a large skillet, add your olive oil to the pan and medium heat, saute your scallions for about 5 minutes to soften.
  6. Add your chopped herbs, tomato sauce and mix well while cooking for another five minutes. Take the skillet off the heat and allow to cool for a 10 minutes.
  7. Add your ground beef and rice to the skillet and mix it in well with the rest of the filling.
  8. Place the shiny side of the leaf face down (the veins should face inward). Drop about a tablespoon of filling in the center.
  9. Flip the bottom part of the leaf over, then fold the sides of the leaf in then, roll the leaf towards the top to form your parcel (each parcel should be snug, but not tight).
  10. Place your Dolmadaki into a casserole dish and repeat steps 8 and 9, filling your casserole with Dolmadakia, side by side until the the bottom is completely covered. Continue layering the Dolmadakia until the casserole is filled with your parcels.
  11. Pour the stock into the casserole (enough to just cover the dolmades) and put the lid on the casserole (or cover) and place into a preheated 375F oven and cook for 60-70 minutes.

For the Avgolemeno

  1. In a large bowl, beat eggs and flour with a fork or a whisk until they begin to get foamy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice in a steady stream, and continue beating for an additional minute.
  3. Add the hot cooking liquid (one ladle at a time) from the dolmathes, and beat for 1 minute more.
  4. Pour some sauce back into the casserole with the dolmathes and the rest into another medium pot.
  5. Stirring constantly, heat sauce over low heat for about 3 minutes (do not let it come to a boil. Adjust seasoning with salt.
  6. Pour over the warm Dolmadakia or serve on the side.

© 2008 – 2016,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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59 Comments for “Dolmadakia (ντολμαδάκια-με-κιμά)”

Pixie

says:

Looks Fabulous Pete; planning on making mine tonight. Am interested to one day experiment and try both methods. Not sure what method I’ll go for tonight. Expect my entry up within the next few days!

Bellini Valli

says:

The oven method of cooking the dolmades sounds much easier. I have all the ingredients to make my dolmades but didn’t get around to it this weekend. We have most of the next two weeks off of work so I will have plenty of time to catch up on my cooking and walking.I would like to use the oven method of cooking them and I will link back to your post to credit you with the idea if that is OK :D

Ivy

says:

Although I am don’t like dill in dolmades that’s a matter of taste, I prefer parsley but about the oven method I have never tried it. Does it give a different taste or is it just a matter of facility?

Núria

says:

Good morning Snowed Canada! Today I’ve seen swallows flying high in the sky! This is crazy!!! Just had to tell you, Peter. It’s been a sinapsis… saw the green grape leaves; thought about spring, that’s when they come out, and here come the swallows… Anyway, I’m curious about this dish and also curious about eating a grape leaf.

Annemarie

says:

I can get my hands on grape leaves fairly easily, but have always been a bit unsure about how to fold them up. Thanks for the step-by-step!

Proud Italian Cook

says:

Absolutely delicious looking!! I want to make some now!! and your sauce looks especially good! Yummm

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

says:

Hey Peter! I am going to try your method for Dolmades. I usually make them my own way, but now that it is winter, this cooked version will be very good! Thank you!

Peter M

says:

Pixie, I’ve laid out the recipe in very easy to follow terms…I can’t wait to see yours.

Val, please do try this method, it’s easier than the stove top method and when done in the oven, no chance of grape leaves breaking up, as some do from the boiling process.

Ivy, you’re in the minority, Dolmades with dill is superior. As for the oven method, I’ve never encountered burst leaves (with the stovetop method you do) and it’s frankly easier.

Nuria, I need warming up over here!
You should try this Greek classic, you’ll love it!

Anne Marie, aren’t they “easy-peasie”?

Maria, Dolamdes are on the menus of many Greek restaurants, do try’em.

Jenn, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome of Dolmades in the oven.

Ferdzy

says:

Mmm, love dolmades. Yours look fabulous.

There’s nothing wrong with a well-cooked dish of liver and onions! Although I admit I’d probably prefer dolmades…

Heather

says:

I think I would prefer these Greek dolmades over the ones the Lebanese folks around the corner from me are peddling. The Middle Eastern ones are delish, don’t get me wrong, these ones look toe-curling good.

Astra Libris

says:

These look and sound delicious, and I’ve wanted to learn how to make them for so long! Thank you! I’m delighted that I discovered your blog!

Marjie

says:

Other than the mint, my mother used exactly this recipe to stuff cabbage leaves! Of course, in the 1960s in California, it was pretty hard to get much of anything “not Mexican” in the way of food!

Happy cook

says:

I’ve heard about this so much and seen in cooking programmes.
They always say it takes really long for the grape leaves to cook.
Never have ate them.

phatfree78

says:

These look fantastic! I have one question, Do i have to pre cook the rice or does it go into the mixture raw? Love the site!

Antonia

says:

What a great post – the step-by-step instuctions make it all look very do-able. And delicious too. I haven’t had dolmades for years (I’m afraid I wasn’t too keen on them last time I tried) and you have reminded me that I must give them another try. Yours look truly delicious – I wish I could gobble them up right now!

Mansi Desai

says:

I’ve only eaten grape leaves in falalfel platters!:) your version looks really inviting Peter!

Randi

says:

peter – this looks great! though grapes leaves seems simple to put together (and apparently are :)) i never though of making them cause i assumed the assembly was complicated and time consuming. i promise myself i will make these despite some busy weeks ahead. thanks for another great recipe!

Emiline

says:

Mother always knows best!

Oooh- Avgolemeno Sauce.

I found these grape leaves recently, in a jar. I wanted to try them, and now I have a reason!
I love the pictures of the process of rolling up the grape leaves.

MARIA V

says:

I love dolmadakia, but not with mince. In NZ, my mother never made them with mince, when I got married, my husband was astounded to find out that I didn’t stuff them with mince. You can prepare rice mixture similar to yemista, and stuff the vine leaves with that mixture. I have tried them with mince, but I suppose I’m fussy – I prefer them without mince.

Susan from Food Blogga

says:

Oh, Peter, you’re a Greek god! I love these so much. There’s a tiny but fabulous Mediterranean place near Brown University in Providence that Jeff and I go to every time we go home. Their stuffed grapes are divine. Oh, how I wish I had some now.

Holler

says:

I haven’t tried or made them before, but I am feeling abit more confident after reading your recipe and tips! Very nice indeed! And……mums know best!

Peter M

says:

Ferdzy, I’m open to trying liver again, I so want to be able to eat everything.

Heather, I’m still blushing at your comment, twinkle-toes.

Katerina, you could probably even try these in your slow cooker.

Marjie, people are so much more diverse in their food tastes, it’s wonderful.

Happy, they are delicious!

Phatfree, the rice is uncooked as is the ground beef. Both get cooked wrapped in the vine leaves in the oven.

Antonia, I’m betting these will turn you around.

Mansi, lots of varieies of dolmades, pick one that best suits your taste.

Randi, I’m glad I’ve demystified Dolmades for you, they aren’t that hard.

Emiline, I can’t wait to see your version, you have the kitchen chops!

Maria, “enai gousto”, right? We tend to gravitate to how foods were presented to us as kids.

Susan Blogga, Thank you (i’m laughing at the God part) but I’m happy that I evoked a fond memory for you.

Holler, step up, try them ou…good with wine too!

Lisa, perhaps I’ll do a Veg. version when I fast for Great Lent.

Kevin, you’ll no have probs finding them in TO.

giz

says:

I’ve had the leaves in my fridge for a while and have wanted to try this recipe – so glad I found your recipe. It looks delicious and easy.

Cakelaw

says:

Peter, these look great. Stoe bought dolmades are often too oily – nothing like the “real” thing made at home.

Cooking and the City

says:

Hi Peter. I’ve made stuffed capsicum but never vine leaves. looks great, am so tempted to try :-)

Dell xo

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

Now I finally have more traffic to my blog, but I don’t know when I will have as many comments as you – well done! My sister LOVES dolmades, but I don’t, but looking at this recipe, I’m sure I could learn to love them…The baked version appeals to me..

anna_mer

says:

Peter,

I have always made dolmadakia on the stove top…interesting method I will have to try it..Your avgolemono looks extra lemony..mine has a white frothy texture..

I like them cold from the fridge as well :P

good job!
A~

Peter M

says:

Anna et al…my mom’s made dolmades in the oven for years and it appears a famous Greek chef does to:

Cat Cora is a Greek-American chef who’s also one of the Iron Chefs and she too employs the oven method here–>http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_15472,00.html

Randi

says:

peter – quick question – can i make the grape leaves ahead of time and then leave them in the fridge for baking the next day?

thanks!
Randi

Peter M

says:

Randi, yes you can…just return to room temp before placing in the oven and add the the hot stock/liquid at that time (prior to throwing in the oven).

pixen

says:

This dish made me madly in love with Greece..LOL I’m crazy about dolmades till my Greek friend had to bring me a bunch of fresh vine leaves (about 30-40 leaves) all the way to Southeast Asia! He loves to tease me when I can’t get them :-( Now, I’m planting a grape tree in a pot.I hope these will solve my access to grape leaves – at least temporary- I made before with Lahanos…it’s not bad but can’t beat that special taste of Grape Leaves!

I used to get my supply locally – prepacked in brine from Cyprus but it had been years now that the importer no where to be seen :’-(

Anonymous

says:

Thank you for the step by step instructions! I never watched as my mum cooked dolmades but your pictures were very useful today. Thanks

Tricia

says:

Hi, Can you use wild vine leaves as well.
We are overrun with them and this would be a good way to use them

says:

I always love dolmades especially with avgolemeno, but then again I am perfectly content with them straight from a can as a quick snack. I eat them like candy.

Swtiria

says:

Wow! These are delicious! I added a vidalia onion, and made them on the stove, however, Yumm! A glass of red wine and I’m in heaven! You just made my giagia proud! Thanks for a great dish.

Rick

says:

I was making dolmades just like this for a long time. The only difference is that I am par-boiling the rice before mixing with the meat. I’ve noticed that when I am not doing this the dolmades are coming out too hard because the rice sucks out all moisture. I like them a little, how should I say, fluffy?

Rick

says:

Hi Peter,
You misunderstood me, I said I am only parboiling the rice, not the whole dolmades. But that’s a matter of my taste. Anyway, thanks for all the work you are doing, the recipes and the dedication.
You are great, keep on!