Stuffed Vine Leaves

Yalancı yaprak dolması


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

Popular throughout the Ottoman Empire, these classic stuffed vine leaves are a familiar sight in Greece, parts of the Middle East and the Balkans. Yalancı, false’, because they contain no meat, they are stuffed with an aromatic rice mixture, rolled into long, elegant fingers and served cold, whereas the meat-filled vine leaves are rolled into short, stubby logs.


  • 24-30 fresh or preserved vine leaves, washed and prepared

For the filling

  • 8 oz/225 g short-grain or pudding rice
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and a little butter
  • 1 scant tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons currants, soaked in water
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • bunch of fresh parsley, dill and mint

Cooking liquid

  • ¼ pint/150 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  • Soak the rice in warm salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.
  • Prepare the filling. Soften the onions and garlic in the oil and butter. Stir in the sugar, currants and pine nuts. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the spices, rice, salt and pepper. Cover with just enough water and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid is almost absorbed. Mix in the herbs with a fork, cover the pan and leave for 5 minutes. The rice should still have a bite to it.
  • Place a few vine leaves in the bottom of a wide pan. Lay the rest of the leaves on a flat surface and place a spoonful of the rice mixture in the middle of each. Fold the near end of each vine leaf over the mixture, then the side flaps to seal it in, and roll it all up into a thin cigar. Arrange the stuffed vine leaves in the pan, tightly packed, and pour over the cooking liquid. Place a plate on top to prevent them from unravelling, and cover with a lid. Bring the liquid to the boil, reduce the heat and cook gently for 1 hour. Leave to cool in the pan, and serve cold with wedges of lemon.