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Today’s Cypriot Cuisine


 

LAHANA DOLMASI (STUFFED SAVOY CABBAGE LEAVES)

By Meliz Cooks

Serves 6-8
INGREDIENTS
1 large savoy cabbage, large leaves removed whole (you should have round 22-24 good sized leaves)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pul biber
2 tbsp tatlı biber salçası
3 tbsp tomato puree
150g short grain pudding rice (washed, not soaked), drained
1 x 400g can good quality chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp dried mint
50g fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
400ml freshly boiled water
200ml cold water
30g unsalted butter
¼ tsp pul biber

Method

Bring a large pan of water to the boil on a high heat and pop the large savoy cabbage leaves in (if there are too many, then do them in 2-3 batches) in the simmering water for 2-3 minutes seconds until they wilt a little, then remove to a plate. Turn the heat off and take the pan off the heat. Finely chop the smaller cabbage leaves / core in a food processor and leave to one side.

Finely chop the parsley, leaving the stalks and leaves separate from each other.

Preheat the oven to 180C fan / 200C.

Heat the 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large saute pan on a low heat and soften the onions with the salt for 12-15 minutes. Add the finely chopped parsley stalks and finely chopped cabbage to the pan, and soften them with the onions for 3-4 minutes until they are soft, silky and lightly browned. Add the tatlı biber salçası and 2 tbsp of the tomato puree to the pan, stirring well so that everything is mixed together. Take the pan off the heat, then stir through the rice. Add everything to a large dish to cool down.

Once cooled add the chopped tomatoes, finely chopped parsley leaves, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and black pepper to the dish too. Stir everything really well.

Take a savoy leaf with the widest part closest to you and the stem pointing downwards. Place a large spoonful (around 2-3 tbsp depending on the size of the leaf) of filling along the widest part, leaving the perimeter around the top closest to you and at the edges free of the mixture, allowing you to tuck in the sides, then the top, rolling it away from you. Repeat until all of the leaves and filling are gone. Line the rolled cabbage leaves into a casserole dish (preferable with a lid) with the seam facing downwards (to prevent them from opening up whilst cooking).

Mix together the stock cube, freshly boiled water and remaining 1 tbsp of tomato puree until fully dissolved and top up with the cold water, then carefully pour it into the dish. Cut out a sheet of parchment paper to fit in the dish and lay it on top of the stuffed leaves, followed by a large dinner plate to weigh everything down a little. Cover the dish the lid then cook for around an hour.

Remove the dish from the oven and place on a flat surface. Very carefully remove the lid, the plate and the parchment paper. Turn the heat up to 200C fan / 220C and pop the dish back in the oven on the middle shelf for another 20 minutes.

When almost an hour is up, add the butter to a small pan and once the butter has melted, add the pul biber and take the pan off the heat.

Take the dish out of the oven again, brush everything with a little of the melted better and pop the dish in the oven for a final 10 minutes. Take the dish out, pour over the remaining melted chilli butter and allow to rest, with the lid on, for half an hour before serving. Perfect with yoghurt and a fresh salad.

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