Greek Cooking Challenge
DOMADES – STUFFED VINE LEAVES
What are Domades?
This month we are cooking Domades for the Greek Cooking Challenge. These little finger sized stuffed vine leaves are very tasty and are amazing to eat with a splash of lemon and tzatziki. Domades (also spelt Dolmades or Domathes) are a popular Greek dish found in many Greek family homes. However the are also very common within Middle Eastern Communities. Lebanese families will call stuffed grape leaves: Dolmas. Domades are usually stuffed with rice, meat, vegetables and herbs. You can choose to use any style of minced meat or select a blend of two or three meats such as lamb, pork and veal. The domathes can also be prepared with just vegetables and rice (no meat) and often fall in to food categories such as: vegetarian, vegan, organic and paleo.
The Best Domades are Made From Fresh Vine Leaves!
In my opinion, the best domades are made from fresh vine leaves! If you know someone who has a veggie garden and grows grape-vine leaves then you must definitely give them a call and ask for some. Or if you can, ask a friend of a friend of a friend. Most people who grow grape vines leaves will gladly share them around. This is because the grape vines grow very quickly when they are in season and they can produce many leaves. The grape-vine leaves need to be cut as soon as they have coloured otherwise they will quickly turn brown and die.
When Do The Vine Leaves Grow?
The vine leaves only grow during a certain time of the year. For us here in Australia the vine leaves grow during October/November. Right now is the very best time to pick the leaves from the grape vine (and this is the reason I am cooking domades in November!) The vines do not grow throughout the rest of the year. This leaves a short supply of leaves for domathes in the colder months.
I am very lucky to have an aunty who grows grape-vine leaves. As soon as the leaves started to grow, my aunty called me to come over and take a look. She went out to the garden with a pair of scissors and cut the leaves directly from the vine. We bagged up about 100 leaves and I took them home to boil. The leaves need to be boiled straight away but they can also be frozen so that you can keep them all year round.
Boiling the Grape-Vine Leaves
The grape-vine leaves come in many different sizes but they are usually shaped like a love heart. Before you boil the leaves, make sure you sort through them and check for any insects, worms, holes or rips. Fill up a pot with water, add a bit of salt and boil the water until it is bubbling. Drop the leaves in to the boiling water – not all at once, but in batches of about 10-20 leaves at a time. You will see the colour of the leaves change from a bright green to a dark browny green. Once you see the change in colour across all of the leaves in your pot, take the leaves out and set them on a tea towel or some paper towel to dry off. Get the next batch of leaves and drop them in to the boiling water. Continue to boil all the leaves until you have enough for your domades.
If you want to freeze the grape-vine leaves, then wrap the leaves in to a plastic bag. Only bag as many leaves as you like to use in each batch of cooking. I personally bag 50 leaves in each plastic bag. So if i’m making a small batch of domades I’ll just use one bag and if I want a large batch of domades then I’ll use two bags. Put a date and a label on the plastic bags before you put them in the freezer so that you know what they are and how long it has been frozen for.
Back Up Plan – Use Leaves From A Jar
If you can’t get your hands on fresh leaves, ask more people!! Seriously, go to Church on Sunday and ask the older Greek women that you see. Someone is bound to know someone that has a grape vine in their garden. However, if you still can’t find any fresh leaves, or if it is out of season then you can always buy a jar of preserved leaves from your local deli. If you use the leaves from a jar, make sure that you rinse the leaves really well before you use them. Here is a link to amazon.com to purchase the Orlando Grape Leaves online.
Now that you have your leaves, it is time to cook!
The Greek Cooking Challenge
Join the Greek Cooking Challenge and share your own cooking photos – use the hashtag #GreekCookingChallenge
The recipe that I am sharing is from the blog Seemingly Greek. On the blog, Jacquline writes about her personal adventure of living and learning the Greek culture as well as many Greek recipes. This recipe actually belongs to Jacqueline’s mother-in-law. It is very traditional and very simple to follow. I hope you enjoy it:
DOMADES: STUFFED VINE LEAVES
AUTHOR: JACQULINE FROM SEEMINGLY GREEK
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
- 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large lemons, juiced
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock, heated
- 30 grape leaves, boiled, rinsed and drained
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, salute the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes. Then, add the rice and herbs and continue stirring until the onion has softened.
2. Slowly pour in half the heated stock and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the rice is almost cooked (but still very al dente). You do not want to over cook the rice, but you do want it started. Stir in half the lemon juice and remove from heat, cool until easy enough to handle.
3. Line the bottom of your pot with a few extra vine leaves you have so the dolmades will not burn while cooking. Try to use the broken or unusable leaves rather than the big nice ones.
4. Take one leave, place the shiny side down and spoon 1 teaspoon in to the centre of the leaf. You only want to use 1 teaspoon or else they will burst open and not be pretty at all. However you can adjust the amount slightly depending on the size of the leaf. Remember that the rice will still expand more while cooking.
5. Fold over both sides of the leaf towards the centre, and begin to snuggly roll up from the bottom to top. You may have to slightly fold the top sides even more inwards (think slight triangle) to get a “prettier” roll. It is all in the practice, so just find what works best for you.
6. Once you have finished rolling one, place it seam side down in the pot. Repeat placing the dolmades together so as to not leave any gaps and allowing the leaves to split open. Try to stack the first layer all facing the same direction and when you begin the 2nd layer, switch the direction for a criss-cross pattern. Repeat this process until you have finished all of the mixture. Sprinkle the top with remaining lemon juice and olive oil.
7. Gently, pour the remaining stock just enough to cover the top layer. Place a flat weight – like a small, upside down plate – on top of the vine leaves. Cover the pot, and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Make sure that you DO NOT boil, because this will make the stuffing overflow from the leaves. When close to the time, check one to confirm that the rice is tender, take into account that they will also slightly cook a little more while cooling down. Remove from heat, remove cover, and let cool for another half hour.
8. Transfer the domades to a plate/dish and serve with lemon slices and greek yogurt. It is also very “Greek” to top them with a little white vinegar and some extra salt if needed. Try it all and decide for yourself!
Jacquline from the blog Seemingly Greek shares a fantastic traditional recipe for dolmades. However you can use your own recipe for the Greek Cooking Challenge if you want to. Take a look at our Pinterest board for more inspiration and recipes.
Take A Photo and Share It
So, here it is! A photo of my domades. They turned out alright (i think). My husband ate them all so that must be a good sign. How did you go with your cooking challenge? Leave a comment at the end of this post or send me a tweet. Tell me how your experience went, I would love to know!
Related posts you might love:
- Reading Greek Coffee Cups
- Greek Cooking Challenge Recipe 1: Vasilopita
- Greek Cooking Challenge Recipes