Stuffed vine leaves are genuinely my favourite food. They often come fermented in brine. Lacto-acid together with sumac and lemon creates a complex sourness that just hugs your tastebuds so lovingly, leaving you with pure delight. Plus, they are so eatable since they are compact and mouth-sized. They are quite a bit of work, though, and require some degree of skill if you want them nice and tight (among Turkish women, there is always some kind of competition of who can stuff the thinnest and tightest vine leaves). But: In good company, your leaves will be stuffed in no time!
While it won’t be comparable to self-made stuffed vine leaves, I do think it’s worth trying out this dish with store-bought stuffed vine leaves if you do not have the time to make them.
Of course, you can accompany vine leaves with something else than purple carrots but if you do use them in a similar way (served along with with small-cut vegetables) I highly recommend using chopsticks when eating. You don’t want to hurt those perfect leaves with a fork and spoons are just not right for them.
Eating them with yoghurt or a splash of lemon juice are classical ways to eat them. I also like to serve them pure and eat them with my fingers!
In this dish, I just wanted them to be surrounded by the freshness of unprocessed veggies and the sourness of lemon. One lemon per person is surely too much if we let out the stuffed vine leaves but with them, it gives just the right kick to fully enjoy them.
Serves four. Prep Time: 2,5 hours
For the vine leaves
- 1 glass bulgur
- 1 glass rice
- 5 onions, minced
- 1 tbsp each: dried mint, dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp each: pepper, cumin, sumac, salt
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 kg (about 1 pound) vine leaves
- juice of half a lemon
For the carrots
- 8 purple carrots, grated
- 4 orange carrot, grated
- 16 sprigs of parsley
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp rosemary
- 4 tbsp hemp seeds (peeled or unpeeled)
- 1 tsp dried chilli
- juice of 4 lemons
- 6 tbsp soy sauce/tamari/water-miso-mixture
Heat the onion on medium heat and add the garlic a minute and a half later. Rinse the bulgur and rice and roast in a saucepan (with olive oil if you like but not needed, add a little water if it gets sticky). Add the spices and stir occasionally. Add 1/2 glass of water and stir again occasionally for 5 minutes. This will bring the flavours together. Cut out the stems of the vine leaves and place them onto the ground of the saucepan. Stuff the vine leaves as shown in this video. (Do not waste vine leaves to cover the ground as shown in the video.) You really want to stuff them as tight as you can. Place the stuffed vine leaves into the saucepan, add a little more water as you need to cover the stuffed leaves, put a plate on top of the leaves to keep them still (otherwise they will move and open up), add the lemon juice, bring to boil and let simmer for one hour. Turn off the heat and let sit for another 10 min.
Toss all the ingredients for the carrots serve along with the vine leaves.