Stuffed Vine Leaves

This is a Bulgarian version of a dish which appears throughout the Middle East. Vine leaves can be bought at Greek or Turkish shops, either canned or salted in brine. If you have your own vines, it is gratifying to be able to make use of the leaves.


serves 4 - 6
15 ml (1 tbsp) oil
50 g (2 oz) rice
10 g (2 tsp) paprika
1 medium 100 g (4 oz) tomato, peeled and chopped
500 ml (3/4 pt) beef stock
450 g (1 lb) ground lamb
salt and pepper
parsley, finely chopped
5 g (1 tsp) dried marjoram
225 g (8 oz) vine leaves (if using preserved leaves, otherwise about 35 fresh leaves)
2 eggs
225 ml (7 fl oz) yoghurt


1. Heat the oil. add the onion and cook until it has just softened but not browned.

2. Add the rice and paprika and stir around well.

3. Add the tomato and cook for 3 minutes.

4. Add half the stock to the pan and bring the mixture to the boil.

5. Add this sauce to the ground meat and season with salt and pepper, parsley and marjoram.

6. Mix together very well to make a smooth mixture.

7. Rinse the leaves if using preserved leaves or blanch them if using fresh leaves.

8. Remove the stems. Put a teaspoonful of the meat mixture into each leaf on the rough side and roll it up, tucking in the edges.

9. Squeeze each roll to pack it firmly.

10. Pack the rolls into a flameproof oven dish and pour over the remaining beef stock.

11. Put a plate on the vine leaves (to keep them from rising up) , cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

12. Mix the eggs and yoghurt and when the vine leaves are cooked, carefully drain off the liquid and mix it into the egg and yoghurt.

13. Pour this back onto the vine leaves and either warm through on a very gentle heat or bake at 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 for 10 minutes.

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