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For other uses, see Dolma (disambiguation).
Farshirovannyi peretz.jpg
Stuffed peppers
Course Meze or main dish
Region or state Balkans, Caucasus, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Western Asia
Serving temperature Cold or hot
Main ingredients Stuffed peppers, Vine leaf, Rice
Variations Partial
Cookbook: Dolma  Media: Dolma

Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes common in the Middle East and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the Caucasus, Russia and Central Asia. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, and garlic. The stuffing may or may not include meat. Meat dolmas are generally served warm, often with tahini, egg-lemon; meatless ones are generally served cold with yogurt or satziki, a garlic yogurt sauce. Stuffed vegetables are also common in Greek cuisine, called "gemista", as well as in the Italian cuisine, where they are named ripieni ("stuffed").[1]

Dishes of grape or cabbage leaves wrapped around a filling have been known since antiquity, where in ancient Greece they were called "fyllas" (fyllon-φύλλον= leaf), and currently are called dolmadakia or in general dolma or yaprak dolma ('leaf dolma'), and also as sarma.

Names and etymology[edit]

Dolma is a verbal noun in Turkish for the word dolmak, "to be stuffed."[2][3][4][5] Dolma without meat is sometimes called yalancı dolma 'fake dolma' in Turkish.[6][7] Versions have been known in Persia since at least as early as the 17th century. Mīrzā ʿAlī-Akbar Khan Āšpaz-bāšī, chef to the court of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah (1264-1313/1848-96), recorded dolma as a category of Persian cuisine and gave recipes for stuffing grape leaves, cabbage leaves, cucumbers, eggplants, apples, and quinces.[8]

In some countries, the usual name for the dish is a borrowing of dolma and in others it is a calque, and sometimes the two coexist with distinct meanings: Albanian: japrak; Arabic: محشي‎‎ maḥshi ('stuffed'), محشي ورق عنب (maḥshī waraq 'inab, 'stuffed grape leaf'); Persian: دلمه‎‎,"dolme", برگ "barg"; Greek: ντολμάς dolmas (for the leaf-wrapped kind) and γεμιστά yemista 'stuffed'; Kurdish: dolma‎ (دۆڵمە), yaprakh (یاپراخ). In Aleppo, the word يبرق yabraq refers to stuffed vine leaves, while محشي maḥshī refers to stuffed cabbage leaves and stuffed vegetables.

An alternative etymology comes from Armenian տոլմա [tolˈmɑ] or դոլմա [dolˈmɑ], coming from the words toli, 'grape leave', and ma, 'wrapped'.[9] Toli as a grape leave was recorded in the inscriptions of the Kingdom of Van (Urartu). Initially, in Classical Armenian, the dish was called Tolimis, meaning "meat in grape leaf". Over time, as often it happens with the endings of Indo-European languages such as Armenian, Tolimis turned into Tolim, followed by Tolima, and finally Tolma.[10][11][12][13]

Internationally, the food is called dolma. It is a stuffed vegetable that is hollowed out and filled with stuffing. This applies to zucchini, tomato, pepper, eggplant, and the like; stuffed mackerel, squid, and mussel are also called dolma. Dishes involving wrapping leaves such as vine leaves or cabbage leaves around a filling are called sarma, though in many languages the distinction is usually not made.


The filling generally consists of rice, minced meat or grains. In either case, the filling includes onion, herbs like dill, mint or parsley and spices. Meatless fillings are cooked with olive oil and include raisins or currants, onion, nuts or pulses.

Armenian lenten[edit]

In addition to the traditional dolmas, Armenia has a giant vegan variant called Lenten Dolma ("Pasuts Tolma" or "պասուց տոլմա"). It is wrapped with cabbage leaves, and stuffed with red beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, cracked wheat, tomato paste, onion and many spices and flavorings.[14] Keeping with the Armenian lenten rules, it is vegan, but despite its name of Lenten dolma, it is commonly prepared year round. Pasuts tolma is made of seven different grains – chickpea, bean, lentil, cracked wheat, pea, rice and maize. All the grains are boiled. This dolma is called pasuts because the Christian New Year features the fast days, which end on Easter day (pasuts tolma means "fast day tolma"). The seven grains symbolize God’s divine number 7, which is associated with divine perfection and completion.

With sea food[edit]

"Midye dolma", Stuffed mussels

Dolma could be made by using seafood. It is sometimes made with different types of fish or mussels. "Midye dolma", (Stuffed mussels) is very popular in Turkey. Usually, filling of midye dolma consists of rice, onion, black pepper and pimento spice.[15]

Israeli variant[edit]

In Israel, vine leaves, Swiss chard, artichoke hearts, mallow, cabbage, potatoes, eggplants, onions, dates, zucchini, bell peppers, beets, hot chili peppers, dried dates, dried figs and dried apricots are commonly stuffed with a combination of meat and rice, although other fillings, such as bulgur, lentils and ptitim, have evolved among the various Jewish, Arab and Armenian communities.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gosetti (1967), passim
  2. ^
  3. ^ Merriam-Webster Online - Dolma
  4. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica. Dolma.
  5. ^ Official Turkish Dictionary. Dolma.
  6. ^ yalancı literally means 'liar'; "dolma.". Online English-Turkish-German Dictionary. v4.1. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  7. ^ Selvili, Elif. "Cooking Fresh: Turkish Summer". Edible Austin. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  8. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica. Dolma.
  9. ^ դօլմա” in Stepʿan Malxaseancʿ, Hayerēn bacʿatrakan baṙaran (Armenian Explanatory Dictionary), in 4 vols, Yerevan: State Publishing House of the Armenian SSR, 1944-45
  10. ^ Petrosian., I. and Underwood., D. (2006). Armenian Food: Fact, Fiction and Folklore. Yerkir Publishing, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. Page 82.
  11. ^ Tolma Festival: Traditional Armenian ways of wrapping meat in leaves presented anew
  12. ^ Cooking With Grandma (Armenia): Tolma
  13. ^ From Gastronationalism to Gastrodiplomacy: Reversing the Securitization of the Dolma in the South Caucasus. Public Diplomacy Magazine.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Ansky, Sherry, and Sheffer, Nelli, The Food of Israel: Authentic Recipes from the Land of Milk and Honey, pg. 76, Hong Kong, Periplus Editions (2000) ISBN 962-593-268-2


  • Alan Davidson, The Oxford Companion to Food. ISBN 0-19-211579-0.
  • Gosetti Della Salda, Anna (1967). Le ricette regionali italiane (in Italian). Milano: Solares. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Dolma at Wikimedia Commons