Aparna shares — “I have been meaning to try out the Armenian cabbage dolmas (cabbage rolls) for a long time — so this time with a fresh and crunchy cabbage on hand I decided to give it a shot. What I have made is little different, technically these cannot be called Armenian or Turkish dolmas as I have not used a raw mince here . I simply couldn’t take the risk for obvious reasons so I cooked the chicken mince with all the spices before stuffing them in the cabbage leaves. Added gohindobhog (aromatic short grain) rice instead of jasmine rice and substituted cilantro and parsley with gawndhoraj (Kaffir Lime) zest. I would like to call these just stuffed cabbage rolls or cabbage dolmas.”
Aparna Bose is a home cook and also the Proprietor of Gograshe – a food catering organization. Apart from her elegant persona, her pen can weave elegant verses too. Doting mother of two sons — a human and a furry one.
- Cabbage leaves (about 10) carefully removed and reserved
- Butter or oil as required
- 1⁄2 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup minced meat
- 1⁄4 cup short-grain white rice
- 1 large onion, minced
- A tablespoon of chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 1⁄2 tsp. dried basil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Trim away the thick stalks of the cabbage leaves as needed and reserve; keep the leaves intact. Cut the very large leaves in half.
- In a large pot of simmering salted water add 3 to 4 cabbage leaves at a time and simmer until just pliable.
- Remove gently and dip them in ice cold water to stop further cooking. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
- In a pan or wok heat butter or oil (over medium heat until melted) add in finely chopped garlic, then whisk in the tomato paste and 1 cup water until smooth. Season with salt and pepper turn off the heat, and reserve.
- In a large bowl, combine the meat, rice, onion, garlic, and fresh and dried herbs — season with salt and pepper.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, distribute the cabbage scraps and leaves in an even layer. Pour in the prepared tomato sauce and set aside. If not using sauce just pour little hot water .
- Working with one cabbage leaf at a time on a clean, flat work surface, place the mince mixture in a 2-inch line in the bottom centre of each leaf. Fold the sides of the leaves over the filling to cover, then tightly roll the leaves like cigars.
- Transfer the dolmas seam side down to the pot atop the cabbage scraps. Pack the whole tomatoes among the dolmas or cover the rolls with larger leaves.
- Cover with a lid and bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer; steam the dolmas until most of the liquid has evaporated and the rice is tender, about 35 to 40 minutes (add small amounts of water only as needed to steam).
- Transfer the dolmas to a platter if desired, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve warm with any remaining sauce spooned on top.
Tips and Tricks:
- I have used gawdhoraj (Kaffir Lime) zest instead of fresh cilantro and herbs.
- I have avoided the extra tomato sauce in the recipe. Steamed the rolls using hot water.
- I have stirred the mince mixture in hot oil before wrapping.
- The steps have been explained in the series of pictures.