If someone asked you when – or what- your first cooking experience was, would you be able to tell them without thinking?
I have no specific childhood recollections of getting my hands covered with gooey dough, or licking chocolate cake batter off the beaters. This is largely due to the fact that my maternal grandmother did the bulk of the baking, and her kitchen was upstairs from ours. I do, however, have fond memories of watching “Yeranuhe Nanny” turn simple ingredients into amazing recipes.
We were fortunate to have lived on the first floor of my grandparent’s 2-family house in Clifton, NJ. They chose to live upstairs (guess it reminded them of their mountainous homeland as they climbed the steps to the 2nd floor). My aunt & uncle lived next door, and a number of my grandparents Armenian friends from the ”old country” lived on the same block.
No Armenian back yard was complete without a grape arbor so, of course, one was planted. It took years before it was large enough to provide adequate shade for our picnic table, but more importantly, to produce enough grape leaves to provide the tender wrapping of the most delectable Sarma (Yalanchi).
I can recall Nanny being very specific as to the harvesting of her grape leaves, usually May, when the leaves were large enough to use, but very tender for eating. “Middle-June is too late!“, she’d say.
Preparing the leaves for use was another story. They were hand-picked at just the right time, gently cooked, drained, stacked, tightly wrapped for freezing so they could be used all year long. Fortunately, today we can purchase jars of leaves in our local supermarkets and specialty stores. No muss, no fuss.
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Oh, I see! The FIRST fold creates the ends, so it doesn't end up as a tube. Always wondered.
Ok, I can tell you're a teacher, Robin! Way to keep it nice and easy for those kids in the back row goofing off. :)
Wow! Congrats Robyn and Doug. I'm really impressed with what you pulled together here, and so fast! Esp. love the old pics (yeah, I picked you two out in the first pic) and the video of Robyn making grape leaves. Keep it up! ~Ron
Thanks for posting this! I tried it and it came out well!
Totally! We alway had bone leg lamb cut up into kabobs cook with tomatoes green peppers onions and then grandma would always make the Sarma with fresh lemon and plain Greek yogurt
My mother had a nice flat bottomed ocean rock she found while vacationing at the beach to use as a weight for the plate covering the dolma.....added bonus were the large clifs of rocks to gather mussels at low tide...The "dolma rock" became a family tradition... we all had our own.... our non Armenian friends thought it was a great idea. Dawn
So excited to find this Web site. My childhood memories are filled with this food being served. My Nanny, who also lived upstairs from us, made a great Baklava, and her 5 sisters had their specialties. Their recipes were not passed down, so I am looking forward to preparing these dishes. I enjoy the prelude to the Dolma recipe. Being only 1/4 Armenian, I now feel 100% after reading it.
Robyn, my Aunt would make a meatless dolma similar to this, but I remember it being sweet. Are you familiar with this recipe? Please share...thank you
Please forgive the delay in this response! The sweeter version of stuffed grape leaves (aka yalanchi) is due to the addition of currants. Check out the Alice Avedyan recipe: http://thearmeniankitchen.com/2010/05/mothers-and-their-recipes-are-special.html
I've seen post here and other places where they call it DOMA but we've always called it sarma! Doma was stuffed green peppers tomatoes and cabbage with rice and ground lamb
Have just tried what I cooked. It tastes great!
Thank you for sharing! An Armenian from England.