Monday, December 26, 2011

ARMENIAN YALANCHI SARMA (STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES)




FIRST THINGS FIRST IS IT YALANCHI, DOLMA, OR SARMA?
MANY MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURES HAVE A VERSION OF THIS DISH. MOST COMMONLY DOLMA. IN ARMENIAN AND TURKISH CUISINE THE DOLMA IS MEAT FILLED. 
WIKIPEDIA STATES-
DOLMA IS A VERBAL NOUN OF THE TURKISH VERB DOLMAK, 'TO BE STUFFED', AND MEANS 'STUFFED THING'.
THIS IS WHY DOLMA CAN BE STUFFED CABBAGE LEAF, GRAPE LEAF, PEPPERS, TOMATOES, OR ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO STUFF WITH THE MEAT AND RICE FILLING.
SARMA SPECIFICALLY REFERS TO A LEAF WRAPPER SUCH AS GRAPE OR CABBAGE.
AGAIN, WIKIPEDIA-
DOLMA COOKED WITH OLIVE OIL WITHOUT MINCED MEAT IS SOMETIMES CALLED YALANCI WHICH MEANS 'LIAR' OR 'FAKE' IN TURKISH.[3] IT IS 'FAKE' BECAUSE IT DOES NOT CONTAIN MEAT.

ALL THAT BEING SAID I LIKE TO CALL IT YALANCHI SARMA. IF YOU ROLL EM YOU CAN CALL EM WHATEVER YOU LIKE. YOU EARNED IT!


I OWE MY SISTER KELLY FOR THIS RECIPE. SHE FAITHFULLY MAKES IT EVERY YEAR. IT IS BASED ON MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER JOSEPHINE ORPHAN'S RECIPE. OF COURSE MY CONTRIBUTION IS REMOVING THE OIL AND REPLACING THE WHITE RICE WITH BROWN RICE.  KELLY'S ADDITION IS  THE CURRANTS, MINT, AND ARMENIAN SPICE. HONESTLY THESE ADDITIONS MAKE A REALLY SUPERB YALANCHI.

THIS IS WITHOUT A DOUBT ONE OF MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY DISHES. ON CHRISTMAS EVE THIS YEAR MY SISTER AND I STAYED UP VERY LATE TO MAKE THESE. WE SAT AT THE KITCHEN TABLE WATCHING LOUIS CK WHILE WE ROLLED THESE BABIES UP. I FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO MAKE THESES A DAY AHEAD OF TIME. THEY ARE ALWAYS BETTER ON DAY TWO AFTER THEY HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO COMPLETELY CHILL DOWN. THE FLAVOR OF THE ONIONS, TOMATO, AND SPICES REALLY COME TOGETHER IN A UNIFIED WAY AFTER A NIGHT IN THE FRIDGE.

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR
MAKING A BATCH OF YALANCHI IS ONE OF THOSE SOCIAL COOKING EXPERIENCES THAT YOU CAN REALLY GET THE WHOLE FAMILY TOGETHER TO MAKE. EVERYONE CAN SIT AROUND THE TABLE ROLLING THE GRAPE LEAVES AND TALKING ABOUT THEIR DAY, WHAT HAPPENED TO WHO, SPREAD SOME GOSSIP, LAUGH, CRY WHATEVER. MANY CULTURES HAVE DISHES LIKE THIS (POTSTICKERS, DOLMAS, STUFFED PEPPERS, EMPANADAS, TAMALES, SAMOSA ETC.) THEY CAN BE VERY LABOR INTENSIVE FOODS THAT EVERYONE LOVES. IF YOU ALL PITCH AND MAKE THEM TOGETHER IT CAN MAKE A VERY TEDIOUS PROCESS GO QUICKLY.

THIS YEAR KELLY TAUGHT MY 2 (ALMOST 3) YEAR OLD VERONIKA HOW TO ROLL THEM.





OIL-FREE ARMENIAN YALANCHI (STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES)

2 C.  LONG-GRAIN BROWN RICE
6 LRG. RED ONIONS, CHOPPED FINELY
1 BUNCH PARSLEY
1/2 BUNCH MINT, LEAVES PULLED OFF, FINELY CHOPPED
3/4 C. NO CHICKEN VEGGIE BROTH  
2 JARS OF PICKLED GRAPE LEAVES
1 1/2 TSP. ARMENIAN SPICE (RECIPE FOLLOWS)
SMALL HANDFUL OF PINE NUTS & CURRANTS
1-7OZ SMALL CAN TOMATO PASTE
1/2 CUP LEMON JUICE

HEAT SAUCEPAN OR SKILLET OVER MEDIUM HEAT
DRY SAUTÉ ONIONS UNTIL STARTING TO BROWN AND STICK
USE WATER/BROTH A ¼ C. AT A TIME TO LOOSEN ONIONS FORM PAN.
CONTINUE TO COOK UNTIL ONIONS ARE TRANSPARENT ADDING WATER/BROTH AS NEEDED.
ADD CHOPPED PARSLEY & MINT
ADD RICE AND 1 TSP. SALT (OR NO SALT IF USING VEGGIE BROTH)
ADD 3 C. VEGGIE BROTH

BRING TO A BOIL AND THEN LOWER HEAT TO SIMMER AND COVER TIGHTLY WITH LID.
COOK FOR 30 MINUTES 
REMOVE FROM HEAT AND LET SIT WITH THE LID ON FOR 10 MINUTES
REMOVE LID AND LET MIXTURE COOL COMPLETELY.

PUT COOKED, COOLED RICE MIXTURE INTO A LARGE MIXING BOWL. AT THIS STAGE THE RICE SHOULD BE ABOUT 3/4 OF THE WAY COOKED. THE RICE FINISHES COOKING IN THE LEAF ONCE ROLLED.

ADD: 
TOMATO PASTE, LEMON JUICE, AND ARMENIAN SPICE.
TASTE TO CHECK FOR SALT. IF NECESSARY AND SOME SALT TO TASTE.

PREPARING GRAPE LEAVES
FIRST REMOVE GRAPES LEAVES FROM JAR AND RINSE EACH ONE INDIVIDUALLY UNDER RUNNING WATER TO REMOVE AS MUCH SALT AS POSSIBLE FROM EACH LEAF.THIS IS A TEDIOUS BUT VERY IMPORTANT STEP. AS SHOWN BELOW IN THE VIDEO.



video


SET ASIDE ANY BROKEN LEAVES.
NEXT, LAYER A LARGE STOCK POT (OR EVEN BETTER A DUTCH OVEN) WITH ALL OF THE BROKEN GRAPE LEAVES. YOU DO THIS SO THAT NOTHING GETS BURNED IF FOR SOME REASON THE WATER EVAPORATES QUICKLY. SOME OTHER RECIPES I HAVE READ USE SLICED ONIONS IN THE BOTTOM OR A COMBINATION OF POTATO SLICES AND GRAPE LEAVES. 
WE TRIED THE POTATOES THIS YEAR. THE COOKED POTATOES BASICALLY TASTE LIKE GRAPE LEAVES. NOT THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD BUT AND INTERESTING AND CHEAP WAY TO INSURE YOUR YALANCHI DON'T BURN.



A LAYER OF GRAPE LEAVES, A LAYER OF RUSSET POTATO SLICES, AND ANOTHER LAYER OF GRAPE LEAVES
IF YOUR GRAPE LEAVES STILL HAVE THE SMALL STEM ATTACHED YOU MUST USE A PARING KNIFE AND CUT IT OFF.

ROLLING THE YALANCHI
TAKE ABOUT 2 TBLS OF MIX AND SET IT AT THE BASE OF EACH LEAF (WHERE THE STEM WAS)
TUCK THE SIDES IN AND ROLL THE LEAF TIGHTLY AROUND THE FILLING. MUCH LIKE ROLLING A BURRITO OR A CIGAR OR SOME OTHER ROLLED THING...






video





WHEN READY TO COOK ....ADD 2-3 CUPS WATER WITH 2 TBLS. LEMON JUICE ADDED TO IT. THE LIQUID SHOULD COVER ABOUT A 1/3 OF THE YALANCHI. YOU ARE BASICALLY STEAMING THESE UNTIL COMPLETELY COOKED. 

BRING TO A BOIL.
COOK FOR 20 MINUTES AT MEDIUM HEAT AND THEN 10 MIN. AT LOW HEAT.

REMOVE THE YALANCHI FROM THE POT AND SET IN THE DISH YOU WANT TO SERVE THEM IN.GARNISH WITH FRESH PARSLEY, MINT AND LEMON.

WRAP DISH WITH PLASTIC AND REFRIGERATE UNTIL COMPLETELY COOLED. PREFERABLY OVERNIGHT.
EAT CHILLED AND ENJOY!


ARMENIAN SPICE (BAHARAD)
1 TBLS. GROUND ALLSPICE
1 TBS. GROUND CINNAMON
1 TBLS. GROUND CLOVES
1 TBLS. GROUND BLACK PEPPER

-BLEND TOGETHER AND STORE IN AIRTIGHT CONTAINER




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