Dolmas (also called dolmades) are common in Mediterranean countries and are a favorite of Persian and Balkan Jews. You can find them on most mezze platters in Israel, and these days they’re even pretty popular and well known in the US, though primarily found at Greek restaurants.
When I make dolmas with my mom for family gatherings, we always use lots of dill, which makes me think of my Bubbie. Dill was her favorite herb—I’d even venture to say that she had a strange obsession with it. That’s why I load these dolmas with dill, both in the filling and sprinkled on top! Just the smell of it reminds me of her and puts an instant smile on my face. You can use any kind of fresh herbs—parsley, basil, cilantro or a combination of anything blossoming in your garden, which makes this recipe perfect for spring and summer.
- 2½ cups cooked jasmine rice
- 1 bunch fresh basil or dill, chopped
- 3–5 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 4 grape or Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Sea salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons sumac plus more to sprinkle on top
- 1 jar grape leaves in brine*
- Feta cheese, crumbled, to sprinkle on top
- Put the rice, dill, Greek yogurt and chopped tomatoes in a bowl. Mix all together. Stir in the tomato paste. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and sumac. Mix well. Place 2 teaspoons of the rice mixture near the stem end of the grape leaves already soaked in brine and roll up the leaf once to cover the filling. Fold in both sides of the leaf and then tightly roll the leaf up toward the tip, making a Torah-shaped dolma. Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or more. Sprinkle some sumac, feta cheese and chopped herbs of your choice on top and drizzle with olive oil.
- *Yes! Organic Market and Whole Foods Market stores offer a great selection in brine flavored with herbs.