Making Dolma using Dried Eggplant Skins

At times, it’s not easy to find dried eggplant skins. In
October, I happened to be in the heart of the Middle Eastern community in
Paterson, NJ, surrounded by more ME stores and restaurants than you could possibly imagine.

Packaged dried eggplant skins

I was pretty confident I’d be able to find the skins even though some ME stores don’t carry them. The fact that dried eggplant skins are available this time of year made my search a little easier. After spotting a huge display at Nouri’s, I
bought two bags – one for me; one for my daughter.

All tied together on a string like a necklace

Their sizes varied and the skin in the center has a large hole in it.

I was especially pleased to find there were 28 dried skins in the bag I bought. Sizes vary, and some were torn or had gaping holes, but that’s not a problem.

My bag of dried skins had to endure a flight from NY to FL,
so a few got a wee-bit crumbly, but most of them survived.

It’s time to share the recipe for
dolma I promised a few months back. 
Haiganoush  Nanny’s recipe for Dried Eggplant Skin Dolma  made in ‘The Armenian Kitchen

This is the Dried Eggplant Skin Dolma recipe my paternal grandmother,
Haiganoush Dabbakian, used to make. My aunt Zabelle Dabbakian Keil (we call her
Zippi) sent it to me.

Aunt Zippi’s Directions:

“First of all, purchase the dried eggplant at the Armenian
shops, they usually come in one dozen packets. 
Sometimes they’re very small and other times they’re good size.”

Prepare the filling (meechoog):

Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl. Cover and
refrigerate until ready to use.

Dolma filling ingredients

Ingredients for filling:

3/4 cup white rice, uncooked (such as Uncle Ben’s parboiled,
long-grain rice)
1 pound ground meat – uncooked (lamb, beef or turkey)
1 medium onion, minced
½ of a small bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and finely chopped                                             
2 (14.5-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes (Note: Cut tomatoes into smaller pieces, then use about 1/2 cup for the filling,
and reserve the rest to create the sauce for the dolma.)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
Juice of one lemon, divided (use about 1 Tbsp. in the filling;
mix the rest with reserved stewed tomatoes for cooking)
olive oil
1 tsp. ground coriander, or to taste
½ tsp. allspice, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Aunt Zippi’s directions, continued:

Skins cooking gently

“Put a large pot of salted, boiling water on the stove.
Place the dried eggplants in the boiling water, stir a few times to separate
them, then allow them to simmer 
(for about 15 to 20 minutes).  Don’t
stir too much, as they are fragile and you won’t want them to break up. The
simmering will soften them up. When you see that they have opened up and
softened, turn the heat off and just allow them to stay in the water for just a
little while (about another 10 minutes).   When you feel they’re soft enough to work
with, drain them and allow the eggplants to cool. 

Cooked skins cooling on a rack

Once they have cooled, you can begin working with them by
filling them with the prepared “meechoog”. (See above) NOTE: Don’t pack in too much filling as the rice needs room to expand. 
Filled skins placed in a circle in a large pot

Line the dolmas in a circle in a large pot and when they’re
all placed, cover all with additional stewed tomatoes which have been diluted
with water and also laced with lemon juice. This should cover all the contents.
(Place a plate on top of the dolma to weigh them down.) Cover and cook for
about one hour.”

Stewed tomatoes placed on top of eggplant

Serve in a bowl with some of the sauce, and/or with plain yogurt, if desired.

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  1. Ara November 30, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Thanks for posting this recipe, with the very clear directions on how to reconstitute the eggplants. I just made a (similar) recipe and the directions came in very handy.

    Dried eggplants taste differently from fresh eggplants and it is well worth trying it out to see the difference. They are also thinner than fresh eggplants, so better for stuffing. Mine were on a string that went through the base of the eggplants, so I did not need to poke holes.

    One word of caution: many of the dried eggplant and dried pepper products sold here in LA come from Turkey. Double-check and ask around, unless you want to support the Genocide economy.


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