🚚 Delivering nationwide to England, Scotland & Wales

😍 Refer Friends & Get £10 Off

How to Make Delicious Iraqi Dolma

8 minute read

How to Make Delicious Iraqi Dolma

How to Make Delicious Iraqi Dolma

If you love Middle Eastern cuisine, then you must try the delicious Iraqi Dolma. This traditional dish is famous for its savory filling and delicate grape leaves, which are tenderly cooked to perfection. If you have never tried Dolma before, don't worry, because we will guide you through the recipe in this article. Whether you are an experienced cook or a beginner, this dish is easy to make and brings a unique flavor to your dining table.

Understanding the History and Origins of Iraqi Dolma

Dolma is a popular dish found in various Middle Eastern countries and comes in different shapes, sizes, and fillings. The origin of the word 'dolma' comes from the Turkish language and means 'stuffed.' The dish has a long history, dating back to ancient times when people would fill vegetables with flavorful ingredients to create a hearty meal.

The origins of Iraqi Dolma can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, where it was introduced to the region. Over time, the dish evolved to become a staple in Iraqi cuisine, with each family adding their unique touch to the recipe.

The Cultural Significance of Dolma in Iraq

The Iraqi Dolma holds a special place in the country's cuisine, and it is often served during special occasions, family gatherings, and religious ceremonies. It is a dish that brings people together, and its preparation and serving are accompanied by a great deal of care and attention.

For many Iraqis, Dolma is more than just a dish; it is a symbol of their cultural identity, heritage, and tradition. The dish is often passed down from generation to generation, with each family adding their unique twist to the recipe.

During the month of Ramadan, Dolma is a popular dish that is served to break the fast. It is a dish that is enjoyed by people of all ages and is a reminder of the importance of family and community.

The Different Variations of Dolma Across the Middle East

While Iraqi Dolma is unique, it is not the only type of Dolma. The dish varies between different regions and countries. In some countries, Dolma is prepared using vine leaves, while others use peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, or even apples.

In Turkey, Dolma is made using grape leaves and is filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and spices. In Greece, Dolma is known as Dolmades and is made using grape leaves, stuffed with a mixture of rice, herbs, and minced meat.

The filling can also differ from meat-based to vegetarian, rice-based, or chickpea-based. In Lebanon, Dolma is made using eggplants and is filled with a mixture of rice, tomatoes, onions, and spices. In Egypt, Dolma is made using cabbage leaves and is filled with a mixture of rice, herbs, and spices.

The spices and herbs used in the recipe also differ, giving each variant of Dolma its distinctive taste and aroma. In Iraq, the filling is made using minced meat, rice, and a blend of spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice. The filling is then stuffed into vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.

Regardless of the variation, Dolma is a dish that is loved by many and is a testament to the rich and diverse culinary traditions of the Middle East.

Soaking the Grape Leaves

Before using the grape leaves, it is essential to soak them in water to remove any excess salt and soften them. To do this, rinse the grape leaves under cold water and then soak them in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes. Once the grape leaves have soaked, gently pat them dry with a paper towel.

Preparing the Vegetables

Next, prepare the vegetables for the filling. Cut the eggplants, zucchinis, and sweet bell peppers into small cubes. Finely chop the onions and tomatoes. In a separate pan, sauté the vegetables with oil until they are tender.

Filling and Rolling the Grape Leaves

Now it's time to fill the grape leaves. Take one grape leaf and place it on a flat surface, shiny side down. Place a spoonful of the meat filling in the center of the grape leaf. Fold the bottom of the leaf over the filling, then fold in the sides and roll the leaf up tightly. Repeat this process with the remaining grape leaves and filling.

Cooking the Dolma

Place the stuffed grape leaves in a large pot, seam side down, and cover them with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let the dolma simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the rice is fully cooked. Once the dolma is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serving the Dolma

Iraqi Dolma is traditionally served with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of sumac on top. You can also serve it with a side of fresh salad or pita bread. Enjoy this delicious and flavorful dish with your family and friends!

Assembling and Stuffing the Dolma

Once you have gathered all the ingredients, proceed to stuff the grape leaves with the filling to create the delicious Dolma. Remember, patience is key to making the perfect Dolma, so give yourself time to prepare and assemble the dish.

The Dolma is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that is enjoyed by many around the world. It is a dish that is typically served at special occasions and gatherings and is loved for its unique flavor and texture. The Dolma is made by stuffing grape leaves with a delicious filling made of rice, herbs, and spices.

Preparing the Grape Leaves

Before stuffing the grape leaves, blanch them in hot water for a few minutes to make them more tender and easier to roll. Blanching the grape leaves also helps to remove any bitterness that may be present. Once cooled, remove the stems and lay them flat with the shiny side facing down. This will help to prevent the filling from sticking to the leaves during the cooking process.

It is important to select grape leaves that are fresh and pliable. Avoid using leaves that are too tough or have brown spots as they may not roll properly and may affect the overall taste of the dish.

Stuffing and Rolling Techniques for the Perfect Dolma

Take a grape leaf and place a small amount of the filling on the center of the leaf. Make sure not to overstuff the leaf as it may burst during the cooking process. The filling should be evenly distributed throughout the leaf to ensure that each Dolma has the same amount of filling.

Rolling the Dolma can be a bit tricky, but with practice, it becomes easier. Fold the bottom of the leaf over the filling, then fold in the sides and begin rolling the leaf from the bottom to the top until the filling is fully covered. The Dolma should be rolled tightly to prevent them from falling apart during cooking.

If you are having trouble rolling the Dolma, you can use a toothpick to secure the leaves in place. Make sure to remove the toothpick before serving.

Assembling the Dolma in the Cooking Pot

For the best texture and flavor, we recommend arranging the Dolma tightly in a pot. Place them seam side down, making sure they are in contact with each other. This will help to prevent the Dolma from unraveling during cooking.

Choose a pot that is large enough to hold all the Dolma without overcrowding them. If the pot is too small, the Dolma may not cook evenly. You can also use a pressure cooker to cook the Dolma, which will help to reduce the cooking time.

Place a heavy plate on top of the Dolma to prevent them from unraveling during cooking. This will also help to keep the Dolma in place and prevent them from floating to the top of the pot.

Add water to the pot until the Dolma are submerged. You can also add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the water for added flavor. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the Dolma for 45-60 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked. Serve the Dolma hot with a dollop of yogurt or tzatziki sauce.

Cooking the Iraqi Dolma

Now that the Dolma is assembled and ready to cook, it's time to practice the patience and gentle handling required to achieve the best result. Dolma is a traditional Iraqi dish that is typically served during special occasions and family gatherings. It is a labor-intensive dish that requires careful preparation to achieve the perfect balance of flavors.

The Dolma is a stuffed vegetable dish that is popular throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The filling is typically made with a combination of rice, ground lamb or beef, and a variety of herbs and spices. The vegetables used for the Dolma can vary depending on the region, but in Iraq, grape leaves are commonly used.

The Importance of Simmering and Steaming

Cook the Dolma over low heat, so they simmer gently for about an hour or until the rice is fully cooked. The slow cooking process allows the flavors of the filling to meld together and infuse the grape leaves with a rich, savory taste. Be sure to check the water level during the cooking process and add more water if necessary. You don't want the Dolma to dry out or burn on the bottom of the pot.

After the first 20 minutes of simmering, cover the pot and let the Dolma steam on low heat. This technique allows the Dolma to absorb the flavors of the filling and the seasoning. The steam also helps to cook the Dolma evenly and prevents them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

How to Achieve the Perfectly Cooked Dolma

You will know the Dolma is ready when all the water is absorbed, and the rice is fully cooked. Remove the pot from the burner and let the Dolma cool for a few minutes. This step is important because it allows the Dolma to set and hold its shape. Before serving, gently remove the plate from the top and invert the pot onto a serving dish. The Dolma should come out easily and hold its shape.

The Dolma can be served hot or cold, depending on your preference. It is often accompanied by a dollop of yogurt or a squeeze of lemon juice to add a tangy flavor to the dish.

Cooking Time and Temperature Guidelines

It is important to cook the Dolma at the right temperature and follow the cooking time guidelines. Simmer the Dolma over low heat and steam for an hour for the best results. You can adjust the cooking time slightly based on the size of the Dolma and the amount of filling. However, be careful not to overcook the Dolma, as it can become mushy and lose its shape.

The Dolma is a delicious and satisfying dish that is worth the time and effort required to make it. With a little practice and patience, you can achieve the perfect Dolma that will impress your friends and family.


Now that you have discovered the traditional Iraqi Dolma recipe, it's time to gather the ingredients and put your culinary skills to the test. We shared a simple, step-by-step guide to help you cook the perfect Dolma and impress your guests. Remember, the key ingredients are patience, quality ingredients, and an open mind to try new things. We hope you enjoyed this recipe and that it brings joy and togetherness to your dining table. Enjoy!

Previous Next