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The Vezirian Family Yalanchi Recipe

Rice-stuffed grapes leaves.
Prep Time 1 hr 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cooling 20 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Course Appetizer

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs. onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups oil
  • cups rice
  • 1 large can tomato paste
  • 3 lemons (Juiced)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. allspice (ground)
  • ¾ cup pignolia nuts (pine nuts) (approx.– add more or less, to taste )
  • few dashes cayenne pepper
  • ½ bunch parsley (chopped)
  • 50-75 grapes leaves (fresh or jarred (See note below))

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, saute onions and rice in oil over medium heat until very clear. This will take at least one-half hour. Stir occasionally so it won’t stick. If you see mixture sticks or seems like it’s burning, lower heat.
  • When onions are limp, add rest of the ingredients – except the grape leaves, of course! Remove from stove and stir until all ingredients are well blended. Cool in pot for about 20 minutes. Tip pot so oil drains from mixture. Set aside for later use.
  • Fill grape leaves with mixture – about 2 Tbsp., depending on size of leaf. Roll leaves. (See how to prepare fresh grape leaves in Note below.)
  • Place rolled grape leaves in large pyrex dish, but not more than 3 layers deep. Drizzle the drained oil from pot over the yalanchi.
  • Add warm water to fill pyrex 3/4 full. Bake, covered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until most liquid is absorbed. Check by tasting to see if rice is cooked. If so, remove from oven.

Notes

Vivian uses fresh grape leaves from the vines her father planted many years ago.
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.
Vivian’s comment:
(Putting this recipe together) was so difficult (as many Armenian recipes are) to get the specific measurement from my mother. She never owned a cookbook or measuring utensils. Everything was “achkee chap”– or “eyeballing” it! By watching and trying to get a spoon or measuring cup under her hands, was the way I learned …..truly a challenge! But I do appreciate the compliment about my yalanchi, but, after all, I did learn from the best!:)
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