Recipes > Mezze (Lebanese Appetizers) , Middle Eastern Cuisine

Mehshi Waraq Enab Bil-Zeyt / Stuffed vine leaves

Serves 4

  • 150 g white short grain rice
  • 300 g firm red tomatoes, diced into 5 mm cubes
  • 50 g spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 100 g flat parsley (half bunch), most of the stalks discarded, coarsely chopped
  • 50 g mint (1/4 bunch), leaves only, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heaped tbsp Adonis Sumac
  • ¼ tsp Adonis Cinnamon Ground
  • ½ tsp Adonis Seven Spice
  • ¼ tsp Adonis Black Pepper Ground
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Juice of 1 large lemon, or to taste
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 200 g medium-sized preserved grape vine leaves (or fresh ones if you can find them)
Cooking instructions

Rinse and drain the rice. Put in a mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, onions, parsley and mint. Add the Adonis seasoning, lemon juice, olive oil and salt to taste. Mix well. The stuffing should look like a salad. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Line the bottom of saucepan with the potato and tomato slices.

Take one vine leaf, cut away the stem, if any, and lay it flat on your work surface smooth side down, with the stem and nearest to you. Arrange from ½ to 1 ½ tea spoons stuffing (depending on the size of the leaf) in a thin raised line across the top of leaf. The line should be thinner than your little finger and should be about 1.5 cm away from the tip of the stem, and the same distance short of the sides. Fold the sides over the rice, in a line that tapers slightly towards the bottom. Then fold the top edge over the stuffing and roll neatly but loosely - you need to leave space for the rice to expand during cooking. Place the rolled vine leaf on the tomatoes, loose and down. Continue filling, rolling and arranging the vine leaves, side by side, doing one layer at a time until you have finished them - if you have any leftover stuffing, cook for 20 minutes in a small pan, adding an equivalent amount of water to serve on the side.

Pour some water into the empty stuffing bowl, swirl it around to extract the last bits of flavorings and pour over the leaves so as to barely cover them. Add salt to taste. Place an overturned heatproof plate over the stuffed leaves to stop them from unrolling during cooking. Cover the pan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 1 hour, or until the vine leaves are done. It is a good idea to taste one before taking off the heat to make sure the rice is cooked.

Let the vine leaves cool in the pan, then carefully transfer them to a serving dish. Garnish with thinly sliced lemon wedges. Reserve the potatoes and tomatoes to eat separately. They are delicious but not pretty enough to serve. Serve at room temperature.