Lamb Dolmas

Preparation info

  • Makes about


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About


  • 1 cup long-grain rice, preferably basmati
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup dried currants, soaked in hot water and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • About 60 grape leaves, rinsed well and patted dry
  • cups olive oil
  • Juice of 4 lemons (about ½ cup)
  • Lemon wedges and yogurt for serving


Soak the rice in cool water to cover for about 30 minutes. Drain.

While the rice is soaking, melt the butter in a medium sauté pan or skillet over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook a few minutes more. Let cool about 10 minutes. Combine the onion mixture, rice, ground lamb, pine nuts, currants, parsley, and salt in a bowl.

Snip the stems off the grape leaves and place smooth side down on a table. With your hands shape about 2 teaspoons of the lamb filling into a cylinder and place near the stem end of a leaf. Repeat with the remaining filling. Fold the sides of each leaf over the filling, then roll into a cylinder. The rice expands as it cooks so do not roll too tightly.

Arrange seam side down and close together in a single layer in 2 pans. Pour half the olive oil and lemon juice over the dolmas in each pan, then add hot water to just cover. Weight with plates to keep them from unrolling.

Heat the liquid to boiling and cover the pans. Reduce the heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Uncover the dolmas so that they can cool quickly. As soon as they can be handled, remove the dolmas with a spatula and arrange on platters (see Note). Serve warm with lemon wedges and yogurt.