This fashionable leafy vegetable was much loved by the Ottomans. In the garden it has all the virtues: beautiful to look at, with its thick, flat white (or red or yellow) stem and shiny green leaves, and more forgiving than spinach, which tends to bolt. Chard gives you two vegetables in one – the stems can be cooked like celery, the leaves like spinach; and it tastes good, too.
The Ottomans and their successors were and are very fond of things stuffed – dolma. Dolmabache, the late Ottoman palace on the shores of the Bosphorus, gets its name from the same root: it is built on land reclaimed by infilling. Sarma refers to things wrapped, usually in leaves – cabbage leaves, vine or fig leaves, though cherry and apricot leaves can be used, too. So the well-known Greek dolmades, rice wrapped in vine leaves, are actually sarma.
Here’s how to do chard, Yashim style. Allspice and cinnamon, black pepper and maybe dried mint were traditional in dolma in Yashim’s day.
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