Stuffed Chard

Etli Pazı Dolması

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

Appears in

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

By Jason Goodwin

Published 2016

  • About

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.

Ingredients

  • lamb or beef 250g/½ lb, minced
  • onion 1, grated
  • garlic cloves 2,finely chopped
  • basmati rice, a handful
  • herbs, chopped
  • allspice ½ tsp, ground
  • cinnamon ½ tsp, ground
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chard 12 large leaves

Method

  • Make a stuffing by mixing in a bowl the minced meat with the onion and garlic, a generous handful of raw basmati rice, and all the seasoning you want – parsley, thyme, mint, coriander, cumin, allspice in any combination or quantity you like, and of course salt and black pepper. A chopped tomato if you want.
  • Blanch the chard for thirty seconds in boiling water, rinse in cold water, and remove the very thickest part of the stalks from the leaves with a sharp knife.
  • Put a leaf face down on a board, stem end towards you, and crush the stalk beneath the flat of your hand. You want the stalk limp and pliable. Lay a thumb-sized roll of stuffing on the leaf, a couple of inches from the edge. Fold the bottom over, fold the two sides in, and roll it up. Hold it tight until you’ve laid it in a shallow saucepan, seam down so it doesn’t unravel.
  • Make a dozen.
  • Pour boiling water or stock over the rolls, to almost cover, and lay a plate on top, to keep them squeezed. Cover the pan, simmer for half an hour until most of the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked, and eat them dressed with some yoghurt beaten with garlic and mint. Or have them cold later on.