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Dolma Azerbaijani.JPGAzerbaijani Badımcan dolması 1.JPG
Classical Azerbaijani dolma with vine leaf (top) and with eggplant, tomato and pepper (bottom)
Course Meze or main dish
Region or state Mediterranean. 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 Mediterranean cuisine and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the Caucasus, Russia, Central Asia and Middle East. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, and garlic. Meat dolmas are generally served warm, often with tahini or egg-lemon sauce. Dolmas prepared with olive oil and stuffed with rice are generally served cold with a garlic-yogurt sauce. Stuffed vegetables are also common in Greek cuisine, called gemista, as well as in Italian cuisine, where they are named ripieni ("stuffed").[1] Dishes of cabbage or grape leaves wrapped around a filling have been known since antiquity, where in ancient Greece they were called "fyllas" (Greek: φύλλον 'leaf'), and currently are called dolmadaki or in general dolma or yaprak dolma ('leaf dolma'), and are also used to make sarma.

In 2017, dolma making in Azerbaijan was included into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[2]

Names and etymology[edit]

Dolma is a verbal noun in Turkish for the word dolmak, "to be stuffed."[3][4][5][6] Dolma without meat is sometimes called yalancı dolma 'fake dolma' in Turkish.[7][8] In Persia, at least one variety can be traced back at least as early as the late 16th century[9]. 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.[10]

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: محشيmaḥshi ('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 يبرقyabraq refers to stuffed vine leaves, while محشيmaḥshī refers to stuffed cabbage leaves and stuffed vegetables. In Cyprus, stuffed vine leaves with minced meat and rice are called koupepia κουπέπια.

An alternative etymology comes from Armenian տոլմա [tolˈmɑ] or դոլմա [dolˈmɑ], coming from the words toli, 'grape leaf', and ma, 'wrapped'.[11] 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, Tolimis turned into Tolim, followed by Tolima, and finally Tolma.[12][13][14][better source needed]

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.


Soğan dolması or stuffed onion

Soğan dolması, which means stuffed onions in Turkish, is a traditional dish in Bosnia, considered the specialty of Mostar.[citation needed] Ingredients include onions, minced beef, rice, oil, tomato purée, paprika, vinegar or sour cream, strained yogurt (locally known as kiselo mlijeko, literally "sour milk"), black pepper, salt and spices. After the onion's skin is removed, the larger, external, layers (leaves) of onion bulbs are used as containers, so called "shirts" (Old Turk. "dolama(n)" for a special kind of Ottoman robe) for the meat stuffing. The remaining part of onion is also used, mixed with the meat and fried on oil for a couple of minutes, to obtain the base of the stuffing. To extract the separate "shirts", the entire bulbs are cut on the top and then boiled until soft enough to be pried off, layer by layer. In order to prevent a further softening and crumbling, the bulbs should be blanched. The "shirts" are removed from the bulbs by slow and gentle finger pressure. Filled "shirts" ("dolme") are boiled slowly at a low heat in broth. The level of liquid should be sufficient to cover the dolmas entirely. Sogan-dolma are usually served with dense natural yogurt.

"Midye dolma", Stuffed mussels

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.[15] 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. There is an annual Tolma festival in Armenia, where different types of tolma can be tasted by visitors.

Dolma could be made by using seafood. It is sometimes made with different types of fish or mussels. Stuffed mussels, called midye dolma is very popular in Turkey. Midye dolma may be filled with rice, onion, black pepper and pimento spice.[16]

Dolma has been a part of Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries.[17] It is a common dish in Iraqi cuisine, which includes stuffed cabbage leaves, onions in aubergines cooked in tomato sauce.[18]

Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Iraqis and Iranians have been making stuffed grape leaves for centuries. Over time, regional variations developed. In the Persian Gulf, basmati rice is preferred, and the flavor of the stuffing may be enhanced using tomatoes, onions and cumin.[17]

In Israel, vine leaves, Swiss chard, artichoke hearts, mallow, cabbage, potatoes, eggplants, onions, dates, zucchini, bell peppers, beets and hot chili peppers 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, Palestinian and Armenian communities.[19]

Egyptians call this main course mahshi (also spelled mashi or mashy). It is stuffed vine leaves[20] but traditionally, cabbage is used in the winter and vine leaves are used in the summer.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gosetti (1967), passim
  2. ^ Dolma making and sharing tradition, a marker of cultural identity. UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster Online - Dolma
  5. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica. Dolma.
  6. ^ Official Turkish Dictionary. Dolma.
  7. ^ yalancı literally means 'liar'; "dolma". Online English-Turkish-German Dictionary. v4.1. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  8. ^ Selvili, Elif. "Cooking Fresh: Turkish Summer". Edible Austin. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Fragner, Bert G. (1984) Zur Erforschung der Kulinarischen Kultur Irans in Die Welt des Islams XXIII-XXIV.
  10. ^ Encyclopedia Iranica. Dolma.
  11. ^ դօլմա” in Stepʿan Malxaseancʿ, Hayerēn bacʿatrakan baṙaran (Armenian Explanatory Dictionary), in 4 vols, Yerevan: State Publishing House of the Armenian SSR, 1944-45
  12. ^ Petrosian, I. and Underwood, D. (2006). Armenian Food: Fact, Fiction and Folklore. Yerkir Publishing, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. Page 82.
  13. ^ Tolma Festival: Traditional Armenian ways of wrapping meat in leaves presented anew
  14. ^ From Gastronationalism to Gastrodiplomacy: Reversing the Securitization of the Dolma in the South Caucasus. Public Diplomacy Magazine.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Salloum, Habeeb (2012-02-28). Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Arabian Cooking. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4629-0524-9. 
  18. ^ Al-Omari, Jehad (2008-08-29). Understanding the Arab Culture, 2nd Edition: A practical cross-cultural guide to working in the Arab world. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-1-84803-646-8. 
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Hervé Beaumont (2008). Egypte (in French). Editions Marcus. pp. 36–. ISBN 978-2-7131-0269-1. 
  21. ^ Andrew Humphreys (1998). Cairo. Lonely Planet. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-86442-548-5. 


  • 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