Ani Ehramjian’s Instant Pot Yalanchi (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Four years ago, Doug asked if I’d be interested in an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) for Christmas. My ears heard ‘Crock Pot’, to which I whole-heartedly replied, ‘Yes!’

On that Christmas morning, I carefully opened the package, but much to my surprise, an Instant Pot was revealed! Doug, beaming, expected me to be doing the same. Instead, I looked puzzled thinking he’d made a mistake, when, in fact, the mistake was mine. I smiled, thanked Doug, graciously accepted the gift, and placed it in a closet.

Current day:

My daughter Mandy was just here for a visit. Before she arrived we planned to prepare a few family favorites together – including yalanchi. I told her I was considering making something with my never-used Instant Pot and she was thrilled to hear that I finally felt comfortable enough to step out of my comfort zone.

Allow me to explain my IP apprehension: Back in my early days in the kitchen, pressure cookers were used on the stovetop. Sometimes the pressure within the pot was so intense, it would literary blow the lid off, often creating a hole in the ceiling.

Mandy assured me that wouldn’t happen in the IP, so we unpacked it, did a dry-run with the ‘machine’, and she guided me like a pro. (It’s pretty funny that my daughter was giving me, a retired culinary teacher, a lesson in cooking!)

With Mandy helping, I agreed to give it a try.

Cousins Ani and Margaret

The recipe we chose to make came from Ani Ehramjian, cousin Margaret’s twenty-something-year-old daughter. I had seen on FB Ani’s photo of the yalanchi she made using an Instant Pot, and it looked delicious.

Ani’s IP Yalanchi served with hummus and eech.

To help with our experiment, Ani sent me her family’s recipe for ‘Stuffed Grape Leaves – the Instant Pot version’.

Mandy and I worked side-by-side, made some slight adjustments to the recipe, and were very pleased with the final outcome.

Special Note: If using fresh grape leaves from the vine, rinse them gently, but thoroughly in cool tap water. Remove the stems and blanch them in boiling water for about 30-40 seconds. Remove leaves with a slotted spoon and place them in a colander to drain and cool down completely.

Me (left) with my ‘teacher’, Mandy

Many thanks to Ani for the recipe, and to Mandy for helping me overcome my anxiety about cooking with a pressure cooker!!

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Yalanchi (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Ani Ehramjian's  Instant Pot Yalanchi (stuffed grape leaves) recipe that is vegan!
For non- Instant Pot users, stovetop instructions are given below.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rolling the Grape Leaves 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 50 pieces

Equipment

  • Instant Pot (Optional)

Ingredients

  • 5 cups yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1 cup rice short or medium grain
  • ¾ cup olive oil we used about 1/3 cup olive oil in all
  • 3 lemons juiced
  • 6 oz tomato paste undiluted
  • ¼ cup pignolia nuts we used 1/2 cup
  • ½ tsp allspice we used 1 tsp
  • ½ tsp dried mint finely crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 18 oz grape leaves rinsed and stem ends removed. We used the Tamara brand grape leaves from Armenia.

Instructions

Preparing the Filling

  • In a non-stick skillet, toast pine nuts over low heat until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  • Finely chop onions. 
  • In a large pan, sauté onions in 2-3 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat for 10 minutes until softened. 
  • With heat on low, add the rest of the ingredients – except for the grape leaves. Mix until combined, and then remove from heat. Set aside to cool completely. 

Rolling the Grape Leaves

  • Spread open each grape leaf with the shiny side facing down and the stem end toward you. 
  • Place a spoonful of filling in the center, fold over both sides and roll from the bottom of the leaf to the tip.
  • Wrap tightly enough so the yalanchi won’t unravel during cooking, but not so tight that expanding rice will burst through the leaf. 

Cooking Instructions

  • Line Instant Pot inner liner with ripped leaves. 
  • Put wrapped grape leaves in rows in pot, pack tightly. Do not exceed the limit line marked on the pot. 
  • Add 1 cup of water to the pot, squeeze in extra lemon juice if desired. (Special Note: Ani said do NOT place a plate on top of the stuffed leaves in the IP!) 
  • Following the manufacturer’s instructions for your Instant Pot, cook for 15 minutes on normal pressure, then 15 minutes natural release. It’s that easy!
  • Chill until ready to serve.

Video

Notes

To serve: Arrange yalanchi on a platter and garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.
Stovetop Method: If you’d rather cook these on the stovetop, line the bottom of a large pot with torn grape leaves. Put wrapped grape leaves in rows in pot, pack tightly. Add 1 cup of water to the pot, squeeze in extra lemon juice if desired. Place a heavy plate on top of the stuffed grape leaves to prevent them from floating and/or unraveling.
Cook, covered, on the stove on low heat for about 1 hour and 45 minutes, until leaves are tender and rice is cooked.

View Comments

  • Hi Robyn!
    I'm still considering the purchase of an Instant Pot (and an air-fryer and a bread maker and...)
    You and Mandy did a beautiful of rolling your Yalanchi.
    Did Ani explain why you do NOT put a plate on top of the rolled leaves when cooking? It seems counterintuitive.
    Thanks!

    • I asked Ani about not placing a plate on top of the yalanchi in the IP. Here's what she said:
      "I think it’s because under pressure the plate can explode. The pressure in the pot seems to keep the leaves together so they won’t unravel.
      However, I’m sure it can be done with a plate that is safe in the pot. I know there are sites that speak about safe materials. I haven’t had the need; I just pack them tight and then pour in my liquid."
      I hope this helps!

  • Very helpful recipe! I have made it with brown rice quite a few times, I just par cook it for half the amount of time before hand.
    Very nice website, and I really liked the little calculator that if you want to double or triple the size of the menu it does it for you.
    I also kind of riffed on the recipe and added cabbage And fennel and currants.
    You might want to mention that if you pick fresh vine leaves, you need to blanch them in boiling water.
    Thanks! Julian

  • Nice recipe. Followed exactly, but had to cook an additional 6 minutes + 3/4 cup more water in the Instant Pot in order for the rice to be done.

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