Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves (Warak Arish)
This is my all-time favorite Lebanese dish that I grew up eating and actually grew up helping my mom make! I may not have learned to cook until after I was married, but I learned to roll Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves when I was probably only 12 years old! And can I say, I think I’m pretty good at rolling! Just look at these skills!
Rolling the grape leaves can be very tedious, which is why I usually only make this dish a few times a year. And if I ever ask my mom or mother-in-law to make it for me, I always offer to help with the rolling…it kinda becomes a “Warak-And-Roll” party…haha!
This particular recipe for Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves is made with grape vines leaves (warak anab), rice, ground beef, 7 spice seasoning and lemon juice. I layer the pot with olive oil, sliced tomatoes and/or potatoes, then add the stuffed and rolled grape leaves over them and repeat the delicious layers. Then I cook until it’s tender, juicy and utterly tantalizing! Trust me, you will be eating them straight from the pot while they’re still piping hot!
This dish is very popular in several Mediterranean countries and in the Middle East. There are some varieties in the ingredients and the technique depending on the region of the recipe, but it’s essential stuffed grape leaves.
The Greek call it Dolmades.
The Turks call it Dolma.
The Lebanese call Warak Arish.
I call it YUMMY!
- 1 jar grape leaves (about 60-70 in brine)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 cups short grain rice
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided (plus more for drizzling between layers)
- 1 tsp salt, divided (plus more for seasoning layers)
- ½ tsp black pepper (plus more for seasoning layers)
- 1 tbsp AllSpice seasoning
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Juice of 2 large lemons
- Zaatar for seasoning the layers (optional)
- Drain grape vine leaves and soak them in a large bowl of water. Gently separate and wash the leaves, stack them on a plate and set them aside. It is best to cover them with a damp cloth so they don't dry out, until you are ready to start rolling them.
- Cook ground beef with 1 tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp of salt and drain out water
- Add rice to the ground beef along with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp of salt, AllSpice seasoning, cinnamon and black pepper, and mix well.
- To stuff and roll the grape leaves, lay a grape leaf flat on a cutting board, scoop out a heaping teaspoon of the rice mixture into the center of the grape leaf, and carefully fold in the sides and roll it like you would when making a wrap. The trick is to roll it tightly enough so that it doesn't unravel while cooking, but not too tightly since the rice needs room to expand as it cooks.
- Place all the wrapped grape leaves in a tray.
- Line the bottom of a large pot with tomatoes and/or potatoes and season with salt/pepper to taste in addition to zaatar (if you desire)
- Neatly arrange the stuffed and rolled grape leaves in rows, alternating directions, to completely cover the circumference of the pot. Drizzle each layer with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place small round plate on top of grape leaves in the pot to hold them down and prevent floating while they are cooking.
- Add enough boiling water to completely cover the grape leaves and the plate, then cover the pot and cook on Medium heat for 30 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
- Add the lemon juice on top of grape leaves, then cook on low heat for an additional 45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool uncovered.
- Transfer to a dish and enjoy warm!
- Serve with plan yogurt for dipping, if desired