One of the most popular dishes in Turkish cuisine is Dolma, meaning stuffed. The Turks stuff all sorts of dried and fresh vegetables – eggplants, okra, peppers, zucchini, grape leaves with meat, rice and nuts. More than often, dolma is served as an appetizer, but it can also be eaten as light entree. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite dolmas, roasted and stuffed bell peppers, provided by Selin Rozanes of Turkish Flavors cooking classes and food tours in Istanbul. Slight variations can be found in Macedonian, Indian and American cuisine as well.
Aromatic Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers with Olive Oil Recipe
Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma
- 6 large green bell peppers
- 1 cup rice
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons currants
- 2 tablepoons pine nuts
- 1 table spoon dried mint
- 6 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 tomato
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 2 cups hot water
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh chopped herb – parsley and dill
Put the currants in hot water to allow them to swell; drain and put to one side. Soak the rice in hot salted water for 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
Heat ¼ cup oil in a deep pan and gently sauté the pine nuts until golden. Add the chopped onion and sauté until soft. Add drained rice, currants and spices, stirring gently to ensure the rice grains are evenly coated. Add the 1 cup hot water, salt, and sugar, stir once and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until the cooking liquid is absorbed and steaming bubbles appear on the surface of the rice. It is important not to stir the rice during this time. Remove from the heat, cover the top of the pan with a cloth, replace the lid and set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Add the herbs and combine gently with a wooden spoon. The rice stuffing is now ready in to vegetables of your choice!
Stuffing the vegetables:
Carefully cut a thin slice from the stem end of peppers and take out the seeds. Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture with a spoon or your hand. Cut small pieces from 1 tomato to cover the top part of peppers. Press the tomato slice down a bit so that it won’t come out.
Place the dolmas in an oven safe dish which is at least as tall as dolmas. Pour 1 cup of boiling water on top.
Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, hot water, sugar and salt and pour over. First let it boil for 5 minutes on stove. Then, bake it in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes until rice is cooked and tops are browned. Check them regularly if you don’t want to burn the tops. Set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.
~ Recipe courtesy of Selin Rozanes, founder of Turkish Flavors. The Istanbul based culinary company organizes food tours, cooking classes and team building activities. Check them out on Facebook Turkish Flavours and Turkish Cooking Classes Istanbul and Twitter Turkish Flavours.