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These are Georgia’s answer to dolmades – tangy grapevine leaves, wrapped around rice and herbs and spices. I’ve chucked some extremely inauthentic porcini into the mix, since they’re vego, to give you a little bit of extra umami. You could leave this out, or use shiitake if you’ve already got some in the pantry. I love pulling the tolma out as part of a generous mezze spread, complete with the tangy dill-yoghurt sauce, which can either be poured over the top, or served on the side for people to spoon as they like. If you’re lucky enough to have fresh grapevines nearby, you can find recipes for making these from scratch, too.
1 brown onion, finely chopped
20g dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 ½ cups jasmine rice, washed
1 ½ cup mushroom stock (the liquid left over from soaking porcini, plus water to supplement)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 bunch each parsley, dill and coriander, finely chopped. (see tips)
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp salt flakes
1 jar vine leaves (approx. 260g)
1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 tbsp for the onions
Dill yoghurt sauce:
1/4 cup dill, finely chopped
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, finely microplane
Juice & zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
Start by soaking the mushrooms in boiling water (approx. 300ml) – you’ll want them to sit for 15 mins. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan, add a tablespoon of the oil, onions, herb stalks, and garlic and sweat on a medium heat with the lid on until soft and translucent – about 8-10 minutes.
Mix the rice in with the onion mixture and sauté for a few minutes until glossy. Drain your mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Pour the mushroom liquid (add water if you don’t have enough) in with the rice, bring to the boil, then drop the heat to a gentle simmer and whack a lid on for 8-10 minutes until the liquid evaporates but the rice is still al-dente. You’re only wanting to par-cook the rice, as it gets cooked through properly when the tolma steam.
Remove the pot from the heat. Sprinkle in the ground coriander, herbs, salt and pepper with the rice, mix well and check for seasoning. Leave to cool.
Remove the vine leaves from the jar and place in a medium size bowl, then cover with boiling water. Let them soak in the water for 10 minutes before draining.
Pat the leaves dry and gently sort through the vine leaves, you’ll need about 40 or 50 intact vine leaves. Keep any that are falling apart though, as you can use them to line the bottom of your pot to steam the tolma.
Start assembling on a flat surface by placing a vine leaf shiny side down with the rough or veiny side facing you, and the top of the leaf pointing away. Next, place a tablespoon of mixture at the base. Roll the leaf up and over to cover the rice, then fold the outer edges inward to the middle, then continue rolling forward until it forms a nice, neat roll. When rolling, don’t roll too tightly, as the rice needs space to expand when steaming.
In a large, wide pot, line the base with the broken vine leaves and start layering your formed tolmas with the seam side facing down. Continue rolling and stacking until all of the mixture is finished. Depending on the width of your pot, you may need a second or third layer.
Once finished, cover the tolma with 1 ½ cups of water (including any leftover stock you may have) and the 1/4 cup of oil. Place on a medium heat and gently bring to the boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat right down, place either a plate or bowl over the tolma to weigh them down, then pop a lid on and let them cook for 40 minutes, adding a little extra water from the kettle if the liquid looks to have evaporated too quickly.
For the yoghurt sauce, combine all of the prepped ingredients into a bowl and mix. Check for seasoning. You want this runnier so it’s easier to drizzle, so feel free to add a splash of water to loosen it.
Serve at room temperature or cold with the dill yoghurt.
Reserve the herb stalks, finely chop to cook down with the onions.
You could add meat to these if you really wanted – about 150g of mince would do it.