The term dolma covers a variety of stuffed vegetable dishes, widespread in the Middle East and Mediterranean area.
Onion dolma are a tasty winter alternative to stuffed aubergines, tomatoes and peppers.
Preparation time: 50 min
Cooking time: 30-40 min
Serves: 3 to 4
8-9 large onions
300 g/12 oz minced veal or lamb or a combination of the two
50 g/2 oz short-grained rice (optional)
50 g/2 oz sheep fat (optional)
50 g/2 oz melted butter
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn turmeric
1 bunch of purple basil (reyhan in Azerbaijani), coriander and dill (all optional)
salt & pepper
a few strands of saffron (optional)
100 g/4 oz yogurt
Peel the onions and slice off 2 cm/quarter of an inch from their tops. Use a small vegetable knife to cut out and remove the central layers of the onions. Keep the tops to use as lids.
Take half the onion centres and mince together with the meat (this helps to make the filling juicy). The rest of the onion centres can be kept for use in other dishes.
Add butter to the mince and fry over a low to medium heat for 15 minutes or so, stirring well, until brown.
Boil the rice (if using) for around 10 minutes in plenty of salted water, until partially cooked.
Add the parboiled rice, cinnamon, turmeric, salt & pepper and chopped herbs (if using) to the filling and cook for another five minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Stuff each onion with filling and stand in a medium-sized pan, covering each onion with its top as a lid. The onions need to be packed quite firmly into the pan in order to keep their shape, so don’t use too large a pan.
Add bouillon or water flavoured with saffron to the pan until it comes less than half way up the onions. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or more until the onions are soft.
Add a sprinkling of cinnamon to the yoghurt. Serve the onion dolmasi with the yoghurt and any remaining juice from the pan.