Uzbek stuffed vegetables are called Dolma, and Tok means vine leaf. Although Uzbek Tok Dolma is very similar to the Turkish and Middle Eastern variations, there are some slight differences. This cherished dolma recipe bursts the flavours of Uzbekistan in every bite with its minced meat and rice filling. Uzbek spices and a hint of mint are added to the fragrant palov rice to give these delicately wrapped grape leaves their authentic taste. These little parcels of deliciousness are usually slow-cooked to perfection over a light sauce or broth so that they absorb a harmonious fusion of flavours.
What’s the Difference Between Uzbek Dolma and Middle Eastern Dolma?
- Filling Ingredients:
- Uzbek Dolma: In Uzbekistan, dolma often features a filling composed of minced meat (such as lamb or beef), rice, and a blend of regional spices like cumin, coriander, and mint. The filling is almost always savoury with added meat.
- Middle Eastern/Turkish Dolma: Middle Eastern and Turkish versions include a variety of fillings. While minced meat and rice are common, vegetarian options with ingredients like pine nuts, currants, and herbs are also popular. The spices can include cinnamon and allspice, which aren’t used in Uzbek cooking.
- Spices and Seasonings:
- Uzbek Dolma: Uzbek cuisine often incorporates a unique blend of spices, influenced by Central Asian flavours. Cumin, coriander, and other warm spices are prevalent.
- Middle Eastern/Turkish Dolma: Middle Eastern and Turkish stuffed vine leaves typically feature a spice profile with a hint of sweetness from cinnamon or allspice and a fresh aroma from herbs like mint and parsley.
- Cooking Techniques:
- Uzbek Dolma: Uzbek stuffed vine leaves are usually rolled up slightly differently, the filling is spooned and shaped on the leaf and they are slow-cooked or baked in a stock or sauce, allowing the flavours to meld over time.
- Middle Eastern/Turkish Dolma: Middle Eastern and Turkish dolma filling can be previously rolled into sausage shapes before being placed on the leaf and the dolma is often simmered or steamed. Grape leaves may be blanched before stuffing, and cooking tends to be relatively quicker without needing a sauce.
- Regional Variations:
- Uzbek Dolma: Uzbekistan’s geographical location and historical influences contribute to its ingredients and techniques, distinguishing Uzbek Dolma from its Middle Eastern sister.
- Middle Eastern/Turkish Dolma: More variations of Dolma exist across the Middle East and Turkey, with each region incorporating local ingredients and flavours into their stuffed vine leaves.
While the basic concept of stuffed vine leaves is shared across these regions, the differences in ingredients and preparation techniques highlight each culture’s culinary traditions.
What can you serve with Dolma?
Uzbek Dolma pairs well with various accompaniments, enhancing the overall dining experience. Here are some suggestions for what you can serve with Uzbek Dolma:
- Yoghurt Sauce: A cool and tangy yoghurt and mayonnaise sauce, often infused with garlic, mint, and a pinch of salt, complements the richness of the dolma and provides a refreshing contrast.
- Salad: Dolma is often served with mezze because it goes really well with salad. Even a simple refreshing one like a crunchy tomato and cucumber salad or a side of shredded cabbage, adds a fresh element to the meal.
- Flatbread: Serve Uzbek Dolma with traditional flatbreads like naan, lavash, or pita. The bread can be used to scoop up the dolma sauce and soak up all the flavourful juices.
- Pickles: Pickled vegetables, like cucumbers or mixed pickles, bring a zesty and slightly tangy element that balances the richness of the meat and rice stuffing.
- Mint or Herb Chutney: A vibrant mint or herb chutney can elevate the flavours of the dish. Blend fresh mint, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice for a zesty accompaniment.
- Rice Pilaf: Uzbeks often use dolma to decorate over pilafs. As dolma often contains rice in its filling, serving it with a fragrant rice pilaf can complement and enhance the overall meal.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasted or grilled vegetables, such as bell peppers, eggplant, or zucchini, provide a smoky and savoury addition to the plate.
- Sour Cream: A dollop of sour cream can add a creamy and slightly tangy element that pairs well with the flavours of the dolma.
- Other Vegetable Dolma: As dolma is made with other vegetables such as peppers & cabbage leaves as well, it’s easy to make the stuffing and fill multiple vegetables to cook over the sauce to present a little medley of Dolma.
Ultimately, the choice of accompaniments depends on personal preferences and the overall theme of your meal. Experimenting with a combination of these suggestions will help you decide which will be your favourite.
Tok Dolma Recipe
For the Dolma
- 200 g minced lamb
- 1 cup rice partially cooked
- 1 large onion
- 1 tsp crushed cumin seed
- 1 tsp crushed coriander seed
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp dried mint
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 908 g jar vine leaves 46 servings
For the Sauce
- 2 onions
- 6 tomatoes
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 red pepper
- 2 garlics grated or crushed
- 1 tsp salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- Wash the rice and leave to soak for about 30 minutes, then partially boil in some water mixed with 1 tsp salt. Drain and leave to cool.
- Finely dice the onion and collect all the filling ingredients in a bowl. Season the minced meat, onion and rice with the spices, tomato paste and oil and mix well.
- Rinse the vine leaves in a colander with some hot water, strain, remove any extended stalks and pat dry ready to fill.
- Lay the leaves down on a clean surface with the stalk side facing you. Place 3/4 tbsp of filling at the bottom of the leaf and roll it up tightly to halfway.
- When you reach halfway up the leaf, fold in the sides of the leaf and then continue to roll up the rest of the way.
- Continue to do this to all the remaining leaves.
- Peel, wash and slice the onions long from the root down.
- Slice the carrot and red pepper into strips, then peel & and dice the tomatoes.
- Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a Kazan or a casserole pot suitable to accommodate all the Dolma.
- Add the sliced onion and caramelize them before adding the tomatoes, red pepper and carrot. Cook them until they begin to soften then add the seasoning to taste.
- Lay all the dolma evenly over the sauce 1 layer at a time then pour over some boiling water or stock to only cover the dolma 1/2 way.
- When cooked, you can either serve them over the sauce with a yoghurt or soured cream dip or serve the sauce as a dip with the dolma on the side