By Heba Saleh

It’s almost in every Mediterranean culture to know the craft of making this gourmet masterpiece from the simple scraps – loose vine leaves, rice, and ground bits of meat. And a masterpiece it is — it’s one of my favorite meals of all time! Egyptians have likely borrowed the idea of stuffing grape vine leaves from their Greek or Turkish neighbors who have purportedly been rolling for centuries.

A 1983 NY Times article devoted to the history of grape leaves gives most credit to the Greeks for this culinary feat: “Greeks will tell you that the origin of stuffed vine leaves goes back to the time when Alexander the Great besieged Thebes. Food became so scarce that the Thebans cut what meat they had into little bits and rolled it in grape leaves.” I like stories of people who learn to utilize what’s available in the most creative way possible.

Other sources suggest that the Turks were responsible for ‘inventing the dolma’. According to an article on The Huffington Post Encyclopedia: “The Ottoman origin is somewhat obscured by the fact that in some countries stuffed vegetables may be referred to by a native name meaning ‘stuffed’, such as yemistos (Greek) or mahshi (Arabic). Indeed, some Arabic dialects rarely if ever use the word ‘dolma’. Nevertheless, the signs of Turkish origin are clear. In places as remote as Kuwait and Damascus, instead of mahshi waraq inab (stuffed vine leaf) one may say mahshi yabraq (in Kuwait, mahshi brag), which comes from the Turkish yaprak (leaf).” Well, this article is right in saying we never call stuffed grape leaves ‘dolma’ in the Middle East; and in Egypt, I’ve never heard it referred to as ‘yabraq’. It’s always referred to as mahshi. But it’s still plausible that the Turks were responsible for first creating this divine roll of meat and rice.

If you take a look at Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll notice that  they have a habit of stuffing things too. Green peppers, onions, tomatoes, Swiss chard, zucchinis/courgette, eggplants, and cabbage are all commonly stuffed – usually with a mix of rice, minced meat, and various spices. In terms of grape leaves, every Mediterranean or Middle Eastern country has a distinguishing mixture. The Greek and Lebanese like lamb in their cuisine, and so they use minced lamb in their grape leaves. Egyptians tend to gravitate towards beef, so they stuff their leaves with ground beef instead. Most Egyptian feasts and get-togethers involve a platter of neatly wrapped grape leaves.

In terms of spices, every culture also has a bit of a different emphasis: “The stuffed vine leaves of Greece, also called dolmathes, are filled largely with minced lamb, a bit of rice and touches of such other ingredients as crushed mint, fennel or parsley leaves, dill, garlic, pine nuts or currants and are served either hot with a chicken broth and lemon-based sauce called avgolemono or cold with a touch of olive oil. In Turkey they are dolma, in Iran dolmeh, and their basis is more rice than meat. They will invariably also contain pine nuts and currants” (NY Times).

In Egypt, most people cook it with ground beef, but sometimes make a vegetarian version, which is served cold. When there’s no meat, we play up the rice with extra spices like dill or mint. It’s a rule: no meat, more spices. Some people even add tomato sauce to the vegetarian version which lacks the flavor-giving chicken or meat broth. But most Egyptians I know prefer the meaty version, in which they add only a pinch of salt and pepper, and rely on the broth to impart most of the hearty flavor.

We’ve also adopted a version of the tzatziki sauce (yogurt sauce) over dolamades tradition from the Greeks. The Egyptian yogurt sauce is simply made by mixing creamy Greek yogurt, chopped cucumber, ground mint, a minced clove of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. The mixture subtly complements and highlights the rich taste of the meaty leaves. Some Egyptians who appreciate an even richer sauce on their stuffed grape leaves make a sauce called tarbiya, a variation of the Greek avgolemono, made from egg with lemon (beida bi-lemoune) mixed with broth and heated till it thickens. I haven’t tried making it yet, but it sure sounds delicious!

Without further ado, please find the recipe that has been passed from one generation to the next in my Egyptian household on www.hayatwashington.com. Simple, but delicious. And once you get the process down, it should take you no more than an hour to roll close to a hundred leaves.

About the Author

Heba Saleh is a health researcher, writer, entrepreneur, foodie, and proponent of all things natural. Heba owns and operates EatLuv, manufacturer of a high-quality clarified butter (samna or ghee). She is also a freelance writer and marketer. Contact her at heba@eatluv.com

بقلم‭ ‬هبا‭ ‬صالح

إنّها‭ ‬موجودةٌ‭ ‬تقريبًا‭ ‬في‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬ثقافات‭ ‬البحر‭ ‬المتوسط‭ ‬وتعرف‭ ‬بحرفة‭ ‬تحضير‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬التحفة‭ ‬من‭ ‬المكونات‭ ‬البسيطة‭ ‬–‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬الفضفاضة‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬والقطع‭ ‬الصغيرة‭ ‬من‭ ‬اللحم‭. ‬وإنّها‭ ‬لتحفةٌ‭ ‬فنيةٌ‭ ‬إنّها‭ ‬واحدة‭ ‬من‭ ‬أعظم‭ ‬الوجبات‭ ‬المُفضلة‭ ‬بالنسبة‭ ‬لي‭ ‬على‭ ‬الإطلاق‭! ‬لقد‭ ‬استعار‭ ‬المصريون‭ ‬فكرة‭ ‬حشو‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬غالبًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬جيرانهم‭ ‬اليويانين‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الأتراك‭ ‬والذين‭ ‬كانوا‭ ‬يتداولون‭ ‬فيما‭ ‬بينهم‭ ‬لعدة‭ ‬قرون

في‭ ‬عام‭ ‬1983‭ ‬قدّمت‭ ‬جريدة‭ ‬‮«‬نيويورك‭ ‬تايمز‮»‬‭ ‬مقالةً‭ ‬عن‭ ‬تاريخ‭ ‬وراق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬وأعطت‭ ‬مُعظم‭ ‬الفضل‭ ‬في‭ ‬صناعة‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬الطعام‭ ‬الشهيّ‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬اليونانين‭: ‬‮«‬‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬يخبركم‭ ‬اليونانيون‭ ‬عن‭ ‬أصل‭ ‬وراق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬المحشوة‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تعود‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬عصر‭ ‬مُحاصرة‭ ‬الإسكندر‭ ‬الأكبر‭ ‬لطيبة‭. ‬فقد‭ ‬أصبح‭ ‬الطعام‭ ‬شحيحًا‭ ‬جدًا‭ ‬لدرجة‭ ‬أن‭ ‬سكان‭ ‬طيبة‭ ‬قطعوا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬لديهم‭ ‬من‭ ‬لحمٍ‭ ‬ولفوه‭ ‬في‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭.‬‮»‬‭. ‬وأنا‭ ‬أحب‭ ‬القصص‭ ‬عن‭ ‬الأشخاص‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يتعلمون‭ ‬استخدام‭ ‬مالديهم‭ ‬من‭ ‬إمكانات‭ ‬بأكثر‭ ‬الطرق‭ ‬إبداعًا‭.‬

وتقول‭ ‬مصادرٌ‭ ‬أخرى‭ ‬أن‭ ‬الأتراك‭ ‬كانوا‭ ‬هم‭ ‬المسئولين‭ ‬عن‭ ‬‮«‬اختراع‭ ‬الدولما‮»‬‭. ‬وطبقًا‭ ‬لمقالة‭ ‬موسوعة‭ ‬هافينغتون‭ ‬بوست‭ ‬‮«‬‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬الأصل‭ ‬العثماني‭ ‬محجوبٌ‭ ‬قليلًا‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬أنّ‭ ‬الخضروات‭ ‬المحشوة‭ ‬دائمًا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬يُشار‭ ‬إليها‭ ‬في‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬الدول‭ ‬بكلماتٍ‭ ‬أصليّة‭ ‬تعني‭ ‬‮«‬محشوة‮»‬‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬‮«‬يوميستوس‮»‬‭ (‬اليونانيّة‭) ‬أو‭ ‬‮«‬محشي‮»‬‭ ‬بالعربية‭. ‬ونادرًا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬استخدم‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬مُصطلح‭ ‬‮«‬دولما‮»‬‭.‬

ولكن‭ ‬مع‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬علامات‭ ‬الأصل‭ ‬العثماني‭ ‬واضحةً‭ ‬في‭ ‬أماكن‭ ‬أخري‭ ‬بعيدة‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬الكويت‭ ‬ودمشق‭ ‬فبدلًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬قولهم‭ ‬‮«‬محشي‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‮»‬‭  ‬فربما‭ ‬يقولون‭ ‬‮«‬محشي‭ ‬يبراك‮»‬‭ (‬وفي‭ ‬الكويت‭ ‬محشي‭ ‬براج‭) ‬والتي‭ ‬تأتي‭ ‬من‭ ‬الكلمة‭ ‬التركية‭ (‬يبراك‭/ ‬ورقة‭). ‬‮«‬‭ ‬حسنًا‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬المقالة‭ ‬صائبةً‭ ‬في‭ ‬أننا‭ ‬لم‭ ‬نسمي‭ ‬محشي‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬‮«‬دولما‮»‬‭ ‬في‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬مصر‭ ‬لم‭ ‬أسمع‭ ‬أبدًا‭ ‬أنّه‭ ‬تتم‭ ‬الإشارة‭ ‬إليه‭ ‬كـ‭ ‬‮«‬يبراك‮»‬‭. ‬إنما‭ ‬تتم‭ ‬الإشارة‭ ‬له‭ ‬دائمًا‭ ‬كـ‭ ‬‮«‬محشي‮»‬‭.‬‭ ‬ولكن‭ ‬مازال‭ ‬من‭ ‬المقبول‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يكون‭ ‬الأترك‭ ‬هم‭ ‬المسئولين‭ ‬عن‭ ‬صُنع‭ ‬أول‭ ‬لفة‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬واللحم‭.‬

إذا‭ ‬ألقيت‭ ‬نظرةً‭ ‬على‭ ‬المطبخ‭ ‬في‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط؛‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬تجد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬لديهم‭ ‬عادة‭ ‬حشو‭ ‬الأشياء‭ ‬أيضًا‭. ‬الفلفل‭ ‬الأخضر‭ ‬البصل‭ ‬الطماطم‭ ‬الخس‭ ‬السويسري‭ ‬الكوسة‭ ‬الباذنجان‭ ‬والكرنب‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬هذه‭ ‬الخضروات‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬حشوها‭ ‬غالبًا‭ ‬باستخدام‭ ‬خليطٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬واللحم‭ ‬المُفروم‭ ‬والعديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬التوابل‭. ‬أما‭ ‬بخصوص‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬فكل‭ ‬دولةٍ‭ ‬على‭ ‬ساحل‭ ‬البحر‭ ‬الأبيض‭ ‬المتوسط‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط‭ ‬تتميزُ‭ ‬بخليطٍ‭ ‬مُميزٍ‭. ‬اليويانيون‭ ‬واللبنانيون‭ ‬يُحبون‭ ‬لحم‭ ‬‮«‬‭ ‬الضأن‭ ‬‮«‬‭ ‬في‭ ‬مطبخهم‭ ‬ولهذا‭ ‬فإنّهم‭ ‬يستخدمون‭ ‬لحم‭ ‬الضأن‭ ‬المفروم‭ ‬في‭ ‬محشي‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭. ‬أما‭ ‬المصريون‭ ‬فيميلون‭ ‬نحو‭ ‬اللحم‭ ‬البقري‭ ‬لذا‭ ‬فإنّهم‭ ‬يحشون‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬بلحم‭ ‬البقر‭ ‬المفروم‭. ‬معظم‭ ‬أعياد‭ ‬المصريين‭ ‬أو‭ ‬احتفالاتهم‭ ‬الاجتماعية‭ ‬وتجمعاتهم‭ ‬تشمل‭ ‬طبقًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬محشي‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭.‬

أما‭ ‬بخصوص‭ ‬التوابل‭ ‬فكل‭ ‬ثقافة‭ ‬لها‭ ‬نوعها‭ ‬المفضل‭ ‬من‭ ‬التوابل‭:‬‮»‬‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬المحشيّة‭ ‬من‭ ‬اليونان‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تُسمى‭ ‬دولماتس‭ ‬مليئةً‭ ‬بكميةٍ‭ ‬كبيرة‭ ‬من‭ ‬لحم‭ ‬الضأن‭ ‬المفروم‭ ‬وقليل‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬ولمساتٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬المكونات‭ ‬الأخرى‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬النعناع‭ ‬المطحون‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الشمر‭ ‬أو‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬البقدونس‭ ‬الشبت‭ ‬الثوم‭ ‬المكسرات‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الزبيب‭ ‬وجميعها‭ ‬تُقدم‭ ‬إما‭ ‬ساخنةً‭ ‬مع‭ ‬مرق‭ ‬الدجاج‭ ‬والصلصة‭ ‬المُعتمدة‭ ‬على‭ ‬الليمون‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تُسمى‭ ‬‮«‬أفغولمونو‮»‬‭ ‬أو‭ ‬تُقدم‭ ‬باردةً‭ ‬مع‭ ‬لمسةٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬زيت‭ ‬الزيتون‭. ‬في‭ ‬تركيا‭ ‬هنا‭ ‬ال»دولما‮»‬‭ ‬وفي‭ ‬إيران‭ ‬‮«‬دولميه‮»‬‭ ‬ويعتمدون‭ ‬على‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬من‭ ‬اللحم‭. ‬وإنهم‭ ‬يحتوون‭ ‬على‭ ‬المكسرات‭ ‬والزبيب‭ ‬أيضَا‮»‬‭ (‬نيويورك‭ ‬تايمز‭)‬

في‭ ‬مصر‭ ‬معظم‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬يطبخونه‭ ‬باستخدام‭ ‬لحم‭ ‬البقر‭ ‬المفروم‭ ‬أحيانًا‭ ‬يصنعون‭ ‬منه‭ ‬نسخةً‭ ‬نباتيةً‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تُقدم‭ ‬باردةً‭. ‬فعندما‭ ‬لايوجد‭ ‬لحم‭ ‬نقوم‭ ‬بخلط‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬مع‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬من‭ ‬الخضروات‭ ‬مثل‭ ‬الشبت‭ ‬أو‭ ‬النعناع‭. ‬إنّها‭ ‬قاعدة‭: ‬لا‭ ‬لحم‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬من‭ ‬التوابل‭. ‬حتى‭ ‬أن‭ ‬مُعظم‭ ‬الناس‭ ‬يُضيفون‭ ‬صلصة‭ ‬الطماطم‭ ‬للنسخة‭ ‬النباتيّة‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تفتقد‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬النكهة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تُعطيها‭ ‬مرق‭ ‬الدجاج‭ ‬أو‭ ‬اللحم‭. ‬ولكن‭ ‬معظم‭ ‬المصريين‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬أعرفم‭ ‬يُفضلون‭ ‬النسخة‭ ‬المليئة‭ ‬باللحم‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬يُضيفون‭ ‬فيها‭ ‬قليلًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬الملح‭ ‬والفلفل‭ ‬وتعتمد‭ ‬على‭ ‬المرق‭ ‬من‭ ‬أجل‭ ‬إحداث‭ ‬النكهة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬يحبونها‭.‬

لقد‭ ‬تبنيّنا‭ ‬أيضًا‭ ‬نسخةً‭ ‬من‭ ‬صلصة‭ ‬تزاتزيكي‭ (‬صلصة‭ ‬الزبادي‭) ‬فوق‭ ‬عادات‭ ‬صنع‭ ‬‮«‬الدولما‮»‬‭ ‬من‭ ‬اليويانين‭. ‬صلصة‭ ‬الزبادي‭ ‬المصريّة‭ ‬تُصنع‭ ‬غالبًا‭ ‬بخلط‭ ‬الزبادي‭ ‬اليوناني‭ ‬الدسم‭ ‬والخيار‭ ‬المفروم‭ ‬والنعناع‭ ‬المطحون‭ ‬وفص‭ ‬مفروم‭ ‬من‭ ‬الثوم‭ ‬وزيت‭ ‬الزيتون‭ ‬والملح‭ ‬والفلفل‭. ‬بعض‭ ‬المصريين‭ ‬من‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬يُقدرون‭ ‬الصلصة‭ ‬الأغني‭ ‬الموجودة‭ ‬على‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬محشي‭ ‬العنب‭ ‬يصنعون‭ ‬صلصلة‭ ‬تُسمى‭ (‬تاربيّا‭) ‬وهى‭ ‬نوع‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأفجولومنو‭ ‬اليوناني‭ ‬مصنوعةً‭ ‬من‭ ‬البيض‭ ‬والليمون‭ (‬بيضة‭ ‬بالليمون‭) ‬مخلوطين‭ ‬مع‭ ‬المرق‭ ‬ويتم‭ ‬تسخينهم‭ ‬حتى‭ ‬تصبح‭ ‬سميكة‭ ‬القوان‭. ‬أنا‭ ‬لم‭ ‬أجربها‭ ‬بعد‭ ‬لكنّها‭ ‬تبدو‭ ‬لذيذةً‭ ‬بالفعل‭.‬

بدون‭ ‬المزيد‭ ‬من‭ ‬المقدمات‭ ‬إليكم‭ ‬الوصفة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تناقلها‭ ‬جيلٌ‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬جيلٍ‭ ‬في‭ ‬منزلي‭ ‬المصري‭. ‬إنّها‭ ‬بسيطة‭ ‬ولكنّها‭ ‬لذيذة‭. ‬وبمجرد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تبدأ‭ ‬العملية؛‭ ‬فلن‭ ‬يستغرق‭ ‬الأمر‭ ‬منك‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬من‭ ‬ساعةٍ‭ ‬للف‭ ‬المئات‭ ‬من‭ ‬ورق‭ ‬العنب‭.‬