18.08.2014An explosion of tastes!
Turkish cuisine fascinates by the almost incredibly number of dishes it can boast of since it combines the influences of a vast country with many climatic regions but also many different people who live there since thousands of years. Thus its not only the Turks who have added their culinary traditions but also Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Circassians, people from the Balkans and also Iranis.
For many, stuffed vegetarian vine leafs are one of best dishes to be found in Turkey. Actually they are eaten as starters, but it happens that people eat so many of them that they are to stuffed to eat the main dish prepared equally tasty and delicious. For Hüseyin Baraner stuffed vine leafs prepared with olive oil is one of his favourite dishes because they combine leafs matured in brine with a plethora of exotic spices along with sweet raisins, bitter pine nuts and the rather sharp taste of onions to a symphony of tastes well orchestrated.
If you got addicted to stuffed vine leafs made with olive oil and are not able to get them at home, you might try to prepare them by yourself. And that´s how you do it:
Ingredients for 6 persons:
500 grams vine leafs in brine
300 ml rice
2 onions, middle-size
100 grams raisins (the smallest available)
50 grams pine nuts
100 ml olive oil (cold pressed)
1 bunch of parsley
Half a tea spoon pepper
1 tea spoon salt
1 tea spoon dried peppermint
1 tea spoon sugar
2 tea spoons allspice
Half a tea spoon cinnamon
First of all put the small raisins in water for half a hour. Now put the vine leafs in a big bowl with water and rinse them thoroughly to disperse of the brine. You should separate the leafs from each other trying to avoid to tear them apart. Also the rice should be left in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes and rinsed thoroughly afterwards.
Now you should get a stew pan ready and pour in the olive oil. Then you cut the onions into small cubes, wash the raisins and let all the water run off. Now heat the pan, add the pine nuts to the olive oil and fry them until they turn a little bit brown. Now you add the onions and fry them until they look glassy. Last of all add the raisins and leave them to stew for about one minute. Then you add the rice and all spices, mix everything thoroughly and let stew for five minutes. Then leave the pan to cool.
Now you need another stewing pan or a kettle. Put some of the vine leafs which are torn apart of show holes and thus are not good to get stuffed on the bottom of the kettle. As soon as the rice stuffing has cooled down to be handled easily you rinse the vine leafs and take one of them on a plate in front of you, spread it out and put a tea spoon of the filling on it. Then you roll the leaf pulling up its end and putting it on the rice, clapping in both ends left and right in order to get them rolled in, and roll this mass upwards towards the tip of the leaf. Put this stuffed vine leaf in the kettle with the tip of the leaf at the bottom. Proceed in the same way and put all following stuffed leafs in tight rows. As soon as the bottom of the kettle is covered start another layer of stuffed leafs and so on. As soon as all leafs are in the kettle cut the lemon into thin slices and put them on top of the rolls. Now take a small plate and put it on the mass in the kettle upside down in order to weigh the mass down a bit. Leave this plate on it and add about 400 ml of water and let the mass simmer for twenty minutes with the lid on.
As soon as all stuffed vine leafs are cooled down you take them and put them on a service plate. Last of all you can pour a bit of cold olive oil on them and decorate according to your taste. Stuffed vine leafs made with olive oil are served cold (room temperature).