I used to avoid eating dolma but have warmed up to them in the past few years. I think I just wasn't used to eating grape leaves; they do have a pretty distinct taste. However, I do avoid the store made versions, there is just something about them that do not appeal to me. I have since began to make my own dolma. The recipe that I am sharing is one that I created on my own so the amount of spices used are approximate and should definitely be adjusted to taste.
There are many different dolma fillings. I decided to make a meat and rice filling that was sweeter to compliment the saltiness of the grape leaves. To do this, I used dried plums that were chopped up in the food processor for a natural sweetener. Since the plums are very sticky, I had tried to separate them in a bowl before adding them to the rest of the filling mixture so that none of the dolma ended up with huge pieces of fruit.
The only tricky part of dolma is rolling them. It is a little bit time consuming but the process does get faster as you go along. It also takes trial and error to get a sense of how much filling to place on a grape leaf so that it is not falling out. I included pictures of the steps as I rolled the dolma to illustrate how I did it.
1. I place about 1-2 spoons of filling across the widest part of the leaf.
2. I fold in the ends of the leaves to make sure that nothing will fall out and start rolling.
3. I finish rolling them and place the dolma in a large pot.
1/2 cup white rice, already cooked
1/2 pound ground beef
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
6 dried plums, finely chopped in a food processor
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
To make the filling:
1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil on medium-low heat. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft.
2. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown the beef. It doesn't have to be fully cooked.
3. In a large bowl, combine, the beef and onions, rice, dried plums, and spices. Mix well.
To roll the dolma (also see the pictures):
1. Lay out one leaf on a flat surface and then place 1-2 spoons of filling along the widest part of the leaf.
2. Fold in the ends to keep the filling from falling out and then roll the dolma completely.
3. Place the dolma in a large pot and cover with water. Heat the water until it boils and then lower the flame to medium-low heat. Cook for about 30 minutes.
To serve: I carefully take the dolma out of the pot with a slotted spoon to drain the liquid. Some of them will fall apart which is okay. They can be eaten plain or with plain yogurt.