Turkish cuisine is well known for its stuffed and wrapped vegetable dishes called ‘dolma’ and ‘sarma.’ Tiny green peppers stuffed with rice, pine nuts and currants, better known as ‘biber dolması’ are one of the most popular. They are easier to make than other stuffed and wrapped dishes, because the peppers don’t need much preparation. Just remove the stems with your thumb and they’re ready for stuffing. Make sure you choose small-sized peppers with thin skins and try to pick ones that are similar size, it will look better in your serving dish. You can also experiment with different species and colors of peppers. This is another great traditional olive oil dish recipe (zeytinyagli) : Olive oil dishes are cooked only with olive oil; best when they’re served cold; and are usually summer dishes.
* small green bell peppers (approximately 18-20 peppers)
* 2 cups white rice, washed and drained
* 4 medium size onions, finely chopped (you can use a food processor)
* 3 tomatoes, grated
* 1 tomato, cut in flat squares for garnish
* 60 gr pine nuts
* 100 gr dried currants (kus uzumu) or dark raisins
* 2 tbsp all spice (yenibahar)
* 1 tsp ground black pepper
* 1 tbsp mint flakes
* 2 tsp cinnamon
* 2 tsp white sugar
* salt (about 3 tsp)
* juice of 1/2 lemon
* 1 cup olive oil
The main thing you need to think about is your pan:
Use a large shallow pot with lid and do a test first by standing your peppers in a deep pan. It needs to be a snug fit and they shouldn’t pop up over the top of the pan.
- First, wash your peppers and remove the stems by pressing your thumb gently down on the base of the stem. This will cause the stem and base to cave inside the pepper, leaving a perfect hole on top for stuffing. Clean out any seeds and white membranes from the insides of the peppers and set them aside.
- Now it’s time to prepare the filling. First, put a shallow pan on a medium flame and fry the onions in the olive oil until they are soft and reduced.
- Add the pine nuts and brown them along with the onion.
- Add all the other dry ingredients and mix well.
- Stir in the water and grated tomato and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is almost absorbed.
- Once your filling cools down enough to handle, you can begin filling the peppers. Arrange the empty peppers side-by-side in the bottom of a saucepan. Make sure there is no empty space left between the peppers. If there is, arrange the peppers in a smaller pan so they support each other and stand upright.
- With a dessert spoon, fill each pepper with the rice mixture until it reaches the top. Don’t pack the filling down or overfill your peppers. The rice will need enough room to expand while it cooks. Add enough water to the pan to reach halfway up the peppers. Now pour warm water into the pan (being careful not to let any get into your peppers) until the water is about a third of the way up to the top of the peppers. Drizzle about two tablespoons of olive oil over the peppers and add some extra salt to the water.
- Bring the pan to a gentle boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low. Let the peppers simmer very gently with the cover on until most of the water is absorbed (20-30 min)
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it continue to steam until it cools to room temperature. If too much condensation forms on the lid, cover the pan with paper towels and close the lid over them letting the peppers continue to steam.
- When the peppers are cool, they will become firmer and easy to remove from the pan. Remove each one gently with your fingers being careful not to damage it.
- Place the pepper ‘dolma’ on a decorative serving dish creating a random pile, drizzle them with some more olive oil and garnish the plate with some chopped, fresh dill weed, if desired.