Stuffed vine leaves have been called the delight and the torment of the middle eastern cuisine and for good reason. Eating stuffed vine leaves is a true delight, especially if they are properly seasoned and spiced.

The leaves will add a hint of flavor to an aromatic and flavorful stuffing of rice and herbs. Slowly simmered until they are cooked to perfection, stopping at one or a few is simply impossible.

Filling ingredients

1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (3 tablespoons after chopping)
1/4 bunch mint, finely chopped (2 tablespoons after chopping)
1 onion, finely chopped or 2-3 spring onions chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic minced (optional)
1 tomato, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup short grain rice, washed, soaked for 10 minutes and drained

© Lama Amogli

Remaining ingredients

2 tomatoes thinly sliced -  one for the bottom of the pot and one to top the stuffed leaves
1 potato peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 lemons, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Water or stock

Recipe

To make the filling, combine all the filling ingredients except vine leaves in a large bowl. Place a vine leaf, rough side up, on a work surface and place 1 teaspoon filling (the amount will vary with the size of the leaf)in the centre along the base of the leaf.

To fill a vine leaf, fold the lower third of the leaf over the stuffing, fold the right side of the leaf over then the left side, and then roll up to enclose filling.

© Lama Amogli

Repeat 100+ times with remaining leaves and stuffing. Reserve liquid from filling in bowl. Line the bottom of a pot with sliced potatoes if using and then top them with sliced tomatoes. Tightly pack stuffed vine leaves in the pot and top them with sliced tomatoes. Add the reserved filling liquid , then weigh down stuffed leaves with a large plate; this will help to prevent the leaves from unravelling and keep their shape.

Pour enough water around plate to just cover vine leaves,cook for a few minutes on high heat until the sauce boils, cover the pot and let simmer and cook for about 35 minutes.

Once cooked, let rest for about 1 hour to cool down. During this time the grape leaf rolls will absorb more sauce and enhance in flavors (optional).

Once ready to serve, empty the sauce from the pot in a separate container, then put your serving plate upside down on top of the cooking pot, and while holding them tightly together turn them over quickly so the pot is now on top and the serving plate on the bottom.

Lay serving plate on the kitchen counter and slowly lift up and remove the pot from the plate. You should now have a nice looking pile of neatly stacked grape leave rolls with the tomatoes on top. You can then add a bit of its sauce on it to taste.

Recipe provided by Lama Alogli.