Asahi Shimbun (Japan): dolma, which went beyond the Middle East. It tells the history of globalization

The season of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables. In Japan, a lot of greens, but it almost does not eat, but in the middle East, many look forward to this season. Fruits grapes are not only eaten as a berry, they are also grown for making wine.

Meanwhile, residents of the Middle East came up with a dish using grape leaves. They say that the new coronavirus symbolizes the era of globalization: the virus spreads through people and things. This dish recalls that a few centuries ago, when there were no airplanes, no Internet, the kitchen and its traditions spread across the vast territory.

The dish is associated with the origin of the cabbage

This dish, which is eaten in the middle East and surrounding regions, called dolma, Barak of ynab or dolmadakia. Meat and rice seasoned with spices and herbs, wrapped in grape leaves and cooked.

From spring to early summer markets bring bundles of grape leaves. In households in a lot of them are stored in freezers. Ingredients for the preparation of dolmades depending on the region may vary slightly: different kinds of spices or dried fruit, but it is assumed that, historically, the culture of cooking dolma spread in several regions.

How does it taste? There is no other food which is so evident concern cook. Cooking takes a lot of time: it is necessary to select fresh, soft grape leaves and carefully wrap them in meat and rice so that the delicate leaves are not torn.

I tried the dolmades in restaurants and family dinner at home, and unconditional wins at home. The memory is still rich taste of the beef neck that extinguished nearly four hours, and fresh flavors of the vegetarian version, which uses a large number of herbs, such as parsley, mint and fennel.

In the middle East in many countries and regions are preparing the same dishes: hummus and falafel from chickpeas. However, the most widely dolma.

It is eaten not only in middle Eastern countries like Turkey, Egypt and Palestine, but also in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan to the East, Greece and Armenia in the West and on the Balkans: Kosovo and other countries. Currently, the dish is distributed in Europe, visited a lot of Islamic migrants.

In India dolma brought merchants from Armenia. There is grape leaves and began to use vegetables of the Cucurbitaceae family. In Bengali cuisine the leaves wrapped shrimp.

In Italy there is a dish called ripieni. In Europe eat stuffed cabbage. It is assumed that the dolma was brought from the Middle East, but instead of grape leaves to use the cabbage.

Widespread dolma received when the Ottoman Empire?

Dolma in Turkish means “to fill”. During the Ottoman Empire the created a bureaucratic organization. Expanded road network: intensified logistics and movement of people.

At the court held by numerous chefs. Conditions are ripe for the spread of food. But the origins of dolma is unknown. According to the book by German researcher Peter Heine “Culinary Crescent/the history of the cuisine of the Middle East” in Mesopotamia in the period of the Abbasid Caliphate were prepared stuffed vegetable dishes.

From Palestine and Israel in the Mediterranean sea, I went to Greece and Albania. During the trip, always served dolma. The option of grape leaves spread in countries with a similar climate, characterized by relatively dry and warm weather, suitable for growing grapes.

Based on the etymology of the word, dolma became court dish in the Ottoman Empire. Most likely, it is correct to assume that from there it penetrated into the various regions of the world. In the Israeli version uses the leaves of the mulberry tree.

In Greece in small villages there are tavernas. There opens the world of rich local cuisine, using fresh vegetables, meat and cheese.

From Israel I flew to the island of Crete in the Mediterranean sea. In the local taverns also served dolma, so I tried it.

In Gertie this dish is called dolmades. Convolution of smaller size called dolmadakia. The taste does not differ from the dolma from the Middle East. There I for a snack served chilled dolma not with meat, rice and herbs. Vegetarian dolma is called “alandi”.

By the way, Turkey and Greece disputed the right to the invention of the dolma. It can be assumed that the culture of cooking similar dishes could evolve in parallel in different regions, but the word itself is Turkish, therefore it is most natural to assume that Turkey played a role in the spread of this dish.

Religion was formalized, and the culinary culture remained

Leaving behind Greece, I went North, and my journey continued on Albania, which was a closed country. Girokastra I attended the first, called the city of stones. Once there, I had the feeling like I’m in an ancient Turkish city. And indeed it is. He was under the control of the Ottoman Empire for about 500 years.

In Gjirokastra, I tried a dish of meat under the Turkish title Pasha köfte and baklava, reminiscent of the reign of the Ottoman Empire. In the gardens of each house are growing grapes and green beans, adding the food color.

Annie, who was my guide in Gjirokastra, is a Muslim. 57% of the population of Albanian Muslims. I came to Albania from the Middle East through Greece, and at a meeting with a Muslim I had a feeling of kinship.

But my question Annie smiled: “I eat Pork in a mosque do not go and pray. Sometimes I go to Church.”

He told me the following: “During the Ottoman Empire the Albanians were converted against the wishes. In Soviet times, the country preached atheism. The father’s name of Turkish origin. I think in the era of the Ottoman Empire ancestors were forced to convert to Islam. Therefore, in Albania, few deeply religious people. Recently, under the influence of external forces religious movement revived. I don’t like politics.”

The Ottoman Empire had sunk into oblivion, and religion was formalized, but the dish called dolma left. It tells us that globalization began a long time ago.

Recipe vegetarian dolma:

Ingredients for three:

30 — 40 grape leaves;

200 grams of rice;

One bulb;

One lemon;

Two tablespoons of olive oil;

A bunch of parsley;

A bundle of mint;

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Slightly boiled vine leaves, allowing them to soften.

2. Chopped onion fry in olive oil. When he gain color, add the unwashed rice and continue to fry. Then add water, parsley, mint, coriander if you have it, as well as cilantro, fennel, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and then boil a little rice.

3. Wrapped in grape leaves stuffing from step 2.

4. On the bottom of the pan to lay out grape leaves to convolution is not stuck to the bottom and then put in a pot of dolma. Add to the pot along with the water squeezed lemon juice; the rind of the lemon to put in the pot.

5. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat. Then remove from heat and infuse under a lid for ten minutes.