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Last updated at 14:56 BST, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Zetinyagli Yaprak Dolmasi

Selma Kuru Aslan

This recipe was sent in by Selma Kuru Aslan from Turkey

I want to describe a Turkish dish made by wrapping grape or cabbage leaves around a bit of stuffing: this is my favorite meal. It is the most difficult side dish in Turkish cuisine also most famous.

Selma Kuru Aslan

Zetinyagli Yaprak Dolmasi

The finished dish


  • 500g vine leaves (or cabbage leaves): as thin as possible
  • 1 kilo onions
  • 1.5 cups rice
  • 1 water glass olive oil
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon pimento
  • 2-3 lumps of sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • A pinch of salt
  • Chopped mint leaves (optional)
  • A pinch of black pepper


  1. Peel the onions and cut them thinly. Sauté without oil and at a low heat.
  2. When the onions' colour is getting darker, add the oil.
  3. Then add the rice and continue to sauté.
  4. Next, add 1.5 cups of boiling water and put in the sugar and spices (pimento, black pepper, salt, mint): in fact if you can find it, there is a special spice mixture for this meal.
  5. Lower the heat and allow to simmer until the rice absorbs all the water.
  6. Now wrap a spoonful of the mixture in each vine leaf.
  7. Finally lay all of them in the saucepan and squeeze a lemon over them.
  8. Then put a plate on top of the parcels (to stop the vine leaves from opening) and add 1.5 cups of boiling water and bring back to the boil. When the water is boiling, lower the heat and cook until the water has all gone.
  9. Squeeze the vine leaves carefully to check that the rice is cooked: if it isn’t cooked, add a little more water to the saucepan and cook for a bit longer.

Your comments

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This topic has now closed. Thanks for all your comments.

Selma (recipe contributor), Turkey
I would like to thank to everybody who had written on my recipe (Zeytinyagli Yaprak Dolmasi) and sharing their feelings with me. All of written encourages me for learning english. I really thanks a lot everybody. PS. I read all of views, there is a reason for everything like great amount onions etc. We can see another time & place, if you like. Regards, Selma.

Rachel Israel
when Iwas in Barcelona I eat this dish many times Ilike it very much but didn't know how to make it Thanks for teaching me I will try it

norma, argentina
do you need to drizzle some olive oil on the baking tray before put the vegetables into a oven?

Kanupriya, India
Thanks Selma, for providing the great recipe. I didn't know about it before. I tried it with cabbage and it tasted mother also liked this dish a lot. I am going to try more turkish cuisine now.

Mulu, USA
This is my favourite meal, thank you Selma.

Mawadda Mohammed, United Arab Emirates
Im addicted to this dish and I love it alot... I enjoy eating this meal often with my friends when we gather some where in a park for example... Thank you alot for choosing this yummy dish and keep showing us your interesting recipies

Paula Fernandez, Argentina
Sounds great! I'd love to try it but I'm not into cooking lately!!Tks for the recipe though!!

Cennet, Turkey
Thanks Selma, I am far a way from Turkey, I am in USA and make very often Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarma, and everyone who tried loved it! I think one kilo of onion too much, and you need to add pinenuts and currants deffinetly. Because these are the very important for best Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarma.Good Luck:)

Ercan, Germany
ohhhh yeeee it's one of my favourite meal. I miss turkey and all of the tradition meal from my home country

Rogey, Australia
Yammy!I love it

Masoud, Iran
hi selma. when my mum make it, i eat my hand with it.

Ali Reza, Azerbaijan / Iran
But we, Azeri people, add some meat to the stuffing, very very little pieces. Then it will be more delicious.

Maria, Italy
Too much onion, in my opinion...

Pary, Iran
It 's common dish in Iran , too . It 's too delicious ! yammy

Selcuk, Turkey
I love this meal so much,everyone must eat!!!good bye...

Omer Murat
it is delicious...

Marzieh, Iran
My mother is an expert in making this delicious food. Have a try, and you'll love it.

Yildirim Sarikaya, Turkey
"Yaprak sarma" also called "zeytinyagli yaprak dolmasi" is one of the best dishes in Turkish food culture. It is a must to taste it. I usually eat it in the restaurants even it is very expensive! Very delicious

Delicious, not difficult but time consuming

Ridvan Yavuz, Canada
Thank you very much for your explanation. I really happy to see our traditional food in bbc webside. I am goint to show my landlord to instructions of grape leaves and we are going to make it. thanks again...

Rosangela, Brazil.
I thought this recipe easy.Look appetizing. I'm going to try to do. kisses

Erna, Bosnia & Herzegovina
We have a similar dish.Instead of olive oil and onions we use sunflower one andstone leek respectively.We don't use pimento but we put a lot of parsley into the dish.It is delicious.

Fatih, Turkey
Thanks Miss Selma. It is very famous dish in every part of Turkey. But it looks thicker than we know. There is a motto to explain this. "Dolma should be wrapped like a pen".

Zhyldyz, Kyrgyzstan
Hi, Selma, it's really wonderful dish, here in my country we also use green pepper instead of cabbage leaves, and boil them in steamer.

Ibrahim, Mali
thanks you so much mss selma.

Rachele, Italy
I have never tasted it but I will do it as soon as possible: it seems delicious!Thank you Selma for the recipee!

Zeynep, Turkey
This is the most delicious meal I have ever tried in my life.Turkish women are number one in cooking and preparing this meal.this is the unquestionable taste in TURKEY.

Burak, Turkey
yes dolma is the name of the verb dolmak which means to fill, the same case for sarmali which derives from the verb sarmak meaning "to wrap"

Gah, Turkey
i think when we start to cook it, we should add some slims of lemon at the top of dolma

Kabra, Ankara,Turkey
I have not eaten dolma for a long time:(I is definetely delicious

Sinan, Turkey
Hi Selma. Thanks for the recipe.Those who want to cook this, I suggest you to serve it with "yoghurt".Looks like this dish is popular in all eastern countries.

Aylin Yildirim, Turkey
I think this recipe is worth trying. It's really delicious and would be a great choice for dinner.

Niloofar, Iran
1 onion,if u add a bit suger and lemon u will have iranian' dolma

Asuman Pollard, England
Very tasty & healthy. Personally I would not put sugar, finely chopped parsley would add to the flavour

Hilal, Turkey
It is also called "Sarma". And it is really delicious and healty dish. You should taste it in Turkey =)

Cinderella, Iran
very nice food i am armenian and we add meat and vegetables and avoid apply sugar but add pepper this food is famous in turky ,armenian and south of iran peopl's food it's better to use before main meal

Atakan, Turkey
1 kilo onions .what are u doing ? :)Is it for a army ? :)

Cemile, Turkey
It is one of the best dishes in Turkish Cuisine.I love it very much:)

Nguyen Vu
Strange. I must try. Thank you for introducing this recipe

Beata, Poland
In Poland we boil cabbage leaves shortly, then put mincemeat (with already boiled! rice) inside. All is being boiled in water with tomato concentrade added. It's called "gobki" which means "pigeons" -nobody knows why (the meat is pork or mixed pork and chicken). And it is national cousine too ;))

Haino, the Netherlands.
Hello Selma.Thanks for the recipee. It tastes well.I have enjoyed it with turkish,iraki, and chinese friends. I think variations are well known in more countries. Gulay Gulay.Haino.

Kaisera, Armenia
I would rather say that this dish made with beef and pork meat is Armenian dish rather than Turkish one and it is called dolma or tolma.

Fatima, Iran
We eat this dish but add meat and vegetables and split peas.

Alper, Turkey
Thanks for your beautiful receipt. It looks very delicious. One thing that I'd really miss is my mom's cooking dolma.

Yasemin, Turkey
1 kilo onions are wrong..because its need is only one:))

Wudongmei, China
It looks like a good meal.

Nancy Nguyen,Vietnam
it makes me mouth-watering, extremely good

Safar, Azerbaijan
It is really a delicios dish and in Azerbaijan we have the same it called "Dolma". It is Turkish dish and the translate of dolma means like "to fill"

Chelo, Spain
Hi everyone! Thanks for the recipe, Selma. I ate it a lot when I lived with two Greek girs in Swansea, Wales. It is really delicious!

Can, Turkey
there are lots of Turkish meals like that but unfotunately most of you have never tasted them.This meal can be a common meal over the world with different receipts but please don't forget that Turkish cuisine is number one.If you have not tried Turkish meals yet please go to nearest Turkish restaurant and try it.

Emad, Libya
We know this dish in Libya and also in most Arabic countries.We learnt it from Turkish when Arabic world was a part from Turkish Empire.In Libya we called it ( Abrak ) and we add small pieces of meat to the ingredients.

Bilge, Istanbul
it is a special dish derived from a cultural blend of mainly eastern mediterrainian countries which grow olive oil and can be made in slightly different ways but generally called in turkish names such as yaprak sarma dolma meaning to leaf wrapping stuffed with an amazing taste approuved mostly by all over the world citizens

Kvitka, Ukraine
Hi all BBC gourmets! Here in Ukraine we call this dish "golubtsi". It is really a delitious dish especially if to make the stuffing with ground rice, mushrooms, carrot, onions, and cook in tomato sauce! Yummi! Selma, thank you for the recipe with vine leaves, it was a new idea personally for me!

Haghie, Iran
hi, in our country we add meat to onion and oil with smell vegtables, they make this food very delitiuos.

Shokrea, Iran

Esther, Israel
Looks very delicious. Thanks Selma !!

Mert Karagul, Istanbul
You don't realize what you miss...I think, dolma(the meal)is taste that everybody must eat once in their lives. Go Turkiye and experience the art of food...There are unique foods in Turkiye like testi kebab, iskender, dolma...

Esma, Canada
it is one of the most delicious aparatif you can eat in Turkish cuisine

Noemi, Italy
I ate this dish when I studied german, in stuttgart, where I had a lot of turkish friends! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to prepare it myself and to taste ...youth......

Nastaran, Iran
i am living in Tabriz.this is our meal too, we love it and we prepare it in our cermony

Kir, Russia
This dish is also loved by Russians! It's named the same like Dolma! Vine leaf stuffed with lamb meat))

Roja, Iran
It is realy a delicious dish,but will be better if u add some mince meat to the onion in step 2 .then add 3 tbl spoon of vinegar and one tbl spoon sugar to the boiled water in step 8.

Saudi Arabia
yamme yamme yamme ... thx a lot we make this dish in my country. realy yamme

Gunes, USA
I miss it so much,can anybody make in DC? :):)

This dish is realy very taste and we often make it , but in our country we call it dolma

Metin, Ankara, Turkey
I like this meal. Thank you very much Selam

Oldooz, Iran
I bet I could wrap thinner than you! kidding, you know!

Tuan Nguyen, Vietnam
I saw it is the first cusine so atractive, it will be delicous tasted. It is also looked similar to Vietnammese food-Cha La Lot in shape and lift, but quite deference matrials.

Violeta, Bulgaria
one important thing: to make the leaves more tender, first immerse the leaves in boiling water for a few minutes and then use them.I didn't know that is a turkish plate,I thouth bulgarian was.You can also mix the meat tritt together with rice and it becomes even more tasty.

Djahida T, Algeria
It's really delicious! It exists in my country (Algeria) too, it's called "DOLMA" ,thank you so much Selma for sending such a traditional dish.

Emad, Iraq
Hello Selma, in Iraq we have the same it called "DOLMA" the recipt is the same but we use not only the cabbage, there are also onion, potato, tomato, earth egg and green papers.i think u have the same also but here u have decleared the "YAPRAK DULMA" which means in turkish one type DULMA.i Russia they have the same it called "Farshavi Perets" they use only green peppers and fill it up with mixed micing meet and rice.i like DULMA alot today i`ll ask my wife to prepare it for tomoroow MMM)))

Gakhan, Pakistan
Thanks Selma for a nice recipe. I realy enjoyed by seeing views of various eating lovers. The dish looks very good but I do not know its taste because I never eat it. I think cooking and catering is a tuff job but it is easy to eat. No dout, it would be full of taste as described by my friends around the globe. My best wishes/kind regards to all human loving fellows. Bye......

Galina, Kyrgyzstan
Thanks. It`s really delicious. We usually eat it wrapping cabage leaves and call golubtsy , but in the summar we often make tnem puttin the same drassing into paprikas.

Marcelo, Brazil
It looks like good.

Maya, Romania
My mother makes "sarmale" every weekend. She use to add porc or beef mince meet or mushrooms for vegetarians. Yummy!

Hanan, Jordan
Hi, I only want to point out that its true this meal can be find in whole meddle East countries, like Syria, Turkey. But this is Arabic recipe originally used to be made in Palestine , Jordan¦ and not Turkish meal.Thanks and hope you all enjoying it because it's very popular here in Jordan.

Wala2, Palestine
mmmm.this meal is very commen in my country all the people like it especially we do it in spring time it is very delicousand i follwed ur recipe and also is our country it is called (wara2 3nnab)

Mehnoosh, Iran
Hello there. I've tried it and it's our favourite meal in Iran too but it's a bit different in Iran

Faruk Kadir
Thank you for your information that is not just Turksh meal. we'r say to the food Yaprah it is in Kurdsh lunguge and its pupler in Iraq and Iran and some other cuontris in mideast. thank you

Mustafa Yeniad, Turkey
Thanks, that's very delicious and famous taste especially in mediterranean area of Turkey. Also if you add curry spices it'll be so nice...

Kubilay, Ankara
You must try it!

Pakhshan, Iraq
this recipe as same as iraqi recipe i make it every sunday its great dish

Báo, Vietnam
I love your meal but in Viet Nam we don't have those materials. OOPS !!!

Eman Ghanem, Jordan
it is great we alwats cook it but in adifferent way thanks

i think its soo diffecult for me but i think it's delecus if i make it i need to explain more.thank you very much

Hania Ahwazi, Iran
Hi Selma, thank you for recipe. We do the same dish in Iran with some variations in the stuffing. In fact we add minced meat and vegetables to the filling...

Thank you for the recipe. This is my favourite dish!! I haven't expected to see a recipe of this so am really pleased. I will try!Naoko

Angela, Romania
Hi Selma.This dish is very common in many countries as: Bulgaria; Croatia; Hungary; Russia; Germany; Poland and Romania. In Romania we called it Sarmale . As in Slovakia we usually take minced meat (usually beef, pork or a combination thereof) rice, onion, tomato juice and various spices. Vegetarian could use in place of meat, mushrooms. We can roll this mixture in cabbage (fresh or pickled) or vine leaf. Usually we serve this dish with: lig and cream.

Luba Australia, Russia
Thank you.Three years ago my Turkish friend taught me to cook this recipe< but But there this recipe is popular in Russia as well. Grape leaves were used by people living in South regions but cabbage leaves were used by people living in North.

Halina, Poland
In Slovakia this similar dish is called "holubky" but in Poland - "gobki", it's really delicious.

Kasaa, Somaliland
it's very good and will try to eat.

Nora, Egypt

Fahri, Turkey
it looks delicious,I am sure its taste as well...

Ella, Georgia
I cooked that meal and i liked very much.It's good for vegetarians.The meal like that we call 'Tolma" it's Armenian national meal but we put into leaves chopped meat but not rice, other ingredients is the same. Very tasty.

Anio, Colombia
no words

Mari­a Cecilia, Argentina
This is one of the dishes that connect me with my family's Oriental roots. I higly recommend to try IT!. It's delicious

Burhanullah Kakar, Afghanistan
well,It is one of the deilicious dishes.I myself have eaten alot.

Kurdistan, Iraq
we make it in kurdistan but in diffrent way

this is the first time i know that this dish is Turkish dish, i thought that it is a Syrian or Lebanon dish.thank you for the new information.

Rachel, Israel
It's a very good dish. In my country we use to eat a lot of it.I like to cover it after cooking with tomato sause and pine nuts and bake it ten minuts.

Can, Turkey
wonderful eat. it's lift dish (because to put in olive oil). I'm propose for everybody.

it looks very excellent.I am sure delicuous as well...

Mike, USA
Thanks for your recipe

Pan, China
Oh my, sounds great! I'll have a try.^_^

Dilcey, Venezuela
Let me tell you something...the first time I ate that, it was prepare for a friend of mine who were from Lebanon, and from that moment up to now whenever I have a chance to eat it, I could say that this is really really delicious...delicious...!!! uhmmm...!

Sandra, Argentina
mmmmm, Delicious!

Alisson, Brazil
It's one of my favourite Turkish meals.It's really tasty. Thank you very much for your recipe. I didn't know how to make it, I'll try it soon.

Fatima, Ouargla, Algeria
THANKS,Selma do you have an other delicious a dish like this?

Upin, UK
Just finished dinner and reading this still makes my mouth water

Adil Koak, Turkey
I like that dish very much however I am afraid to of the ingridients were missing. those are pine nuts and currant. if you add those items it would be more delicious.

Bulent, Turkey
I have eaten this dish a few minutes ago. believe or not ! :)

Ricardo Buchaul, Brazil
Hi, Selma! Very, very nice. Congratulations!

Tasneem, Jordan
Yumi Yumi.. mum made this dish 4 lunch yesterday,, and it was so tasty I wish if I could invite u all friends :)

Isil, Turkey
oohh it's my favourite Turkish meal.I'm Turk so i eat it almost every week it's really veryy yummy. If u don't try,certainly u should do it No words to explain it's wonderful

Guido, Italy
I've never tried that dish because I'm from Italy and we don't have the same stuff but I love vegetables sounds yummy!!!!!!Guido

Somar Mahmoud, Syria
I live in the Syrian Arab Republic next to Turkey and we have the same dish because our cuisine is derived from the Turks ;our friends.

Frantal Jiri, Czech Republic
Sounds interesting. will surely try it. Thanks for the recipe

oohh it's my favourite Turkish meal.I'm Turk so i eat it almost every week it's really veryy yummy. If u don't try,certainly u should do it No words to explain it's wonderful

Canan, Istanbul
I have tried this dish many times. My mother makes it, so delicious. but for now I am away from my mother. that's way I miss her great dishes. and also, you can make this dish with walnut leaves instead of cabbage leaves. you'll love this!

Ali, Turkey
it is very nice to eat.

Andrej, Slovakia
Selma,there is a similiar dish in Slovakia called Holubky (small pigeons) made from cabbage leavss, onions, garlic, tomato sauce, rice and minced pork (not pigeon!) but thanks for vegetarian inspiration.

Anna, Russia
I've been to Turkey but I haven't tired this dish. Sounds tasty. Thanks a lot.

Thanks for your recipe

Ibrahim Cenet, Turkey
this food is delicous. my mom's favourate option for special days and ceremonies. thanks selma

Burhan Okan Duman, UK
Indeed, since I am of Turkish heritage I can confirm that the dish we are talking about (Yaprak Dolmasi) is one of the greatest I have ever tried.Upshot: Check it out!

Hasan, Ankara, Turkey
Recipe of Zeytinya Yaprak Sarmas is true. But, onions should be souted with olive oil. And it should be eaten cold.Hasan

Muhtar, Turkestan
wow, nice dish and easy to cook. Like it very much.

Ahmad, France
Thanks Selma, in fact this recipe is very famous in many country located in the eastern coast of the mediterranean sea like Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and even Greeces, by the way it's my favourite dish

Mehmet, Turkey
I'm really impressed what you have done and I'm very proud of you. You introducing our culture very well.

Norma, Argentina
I thougth that this recipe was make's good for me because I am vegetarian.thank you.

Ayca, Turkey
This receipt, made me very happy.I just want to make a correction about the name of the dish. Its name is zeytinyagli yaprak "sarmasi"thanks for the receipt. :)

Bugra, USA

Alaa, Egypt
Everybody in middle east knows very well how delecious it is.It's got different names in the Egypt it is called Mahshi which literally means stuffed.for your knowledge,cabbage leaves help in weight control.thank you for the recipe.

Enes, Turkey
yes of course,it is one of the most delicious but i would like to warn you that it is one of the hardest to prepare. Thanks to my mum's hands and fingers. I taste it from time to time. It may be eaten hot or cold.For the hot one the ingredient is a little bit different. And ingredients may differ from region to region or to the creativity of the lady who dared to invente it.

Farideh, Iran
I have tried this dish several times. My mother is a very good cook and she often makes this nice meal with cabbage, vine leaves or eggplant. As dea Yaprak said this is one of the most difficult meals to make and I suggest every one to try it.

wow! I love this taste.But you know what its really take much time to wrap it.But it wort to do it.I suggest all of you to taste it.

Fahri, The Netherlands
Delicious! My mother does it very well

Ahmed, Germany
thanks for this dish , i folowed it and it was great

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