This recipe for stuffed vine leaves is a little bit different from those usually made in Fethiye – as it comes from Yozgat, a province in Central Anatolia, to the east of Ankara.

Pick a bunch of vine leaves…

Stuffed vine leaves are a big favourite in this part of the world, as our readers will know. They are particular popular at this time of year, when grape vines are covered in delicate new leaves.

How to make stuffed vine leaves – Yozgat style
Grape vine – Pixabay

We collected a bunch of leaves and then headed off to see Aynur, who lives in Fethiye but originally comes from Yozgat.

There are many different recipes for this dish. Some recipes – like this one from Greece – call for lemon, pine nuts and currants. Others, like this one from Özlem’s Turkish Table, require meat and dill. But the one we are showing you today is a bit different: the rice stuffing is flavoured with mint, tomato and pepper paste, has lots of black pepper and some cumin too.

Feeling hungry? Let’s begin

How to make stuffed vine leaves – Yozgat style
get your ingredients ready

Start by getting the ingredients ready:

We are not using precise amounts here… the rice, olive oil, water are measured using a water glass (or mug) and a tea glass.

Ingredients for yaprak sarması – Yozgat style
One mug or water glass of baldo rice
One mug or water glass of water
One tea glass of olive oil
Two medium or one large onion – finely chopped
Approximately one tablespoon of tomato paste (domates salçası)
Approximately one tablespoon of pepper paste (biber salçası – hot or sweet – either is fine – but be extra cautious if you’re using the hot one)
A generous handful of parsley (maydonoz) – chopped
Plenty of ground black pepper
A scant teaspoon of chilli flakes (pul biber)
A scant teaspoon of cumin (kimyon)
Salt to taste

And, of course, a big bunch of freshly picked vine leaves with the stalks intact, if possible. If you can’t find fresh vine leaves they can be bought in packs from any Mediterranean store, and many supermarkets. But do use fresh leaves if you can; the taste is really special.

How to make stuffed vine leaves – Yozgat style
Are you ready to start stuffing?

You’ll also need some utensils: a frying pan, a heavy based saucepan with a lid. As you probably won’t have a dolma taşı, a saucer or plate that fits neatly into the pan… and a wooden spoon.

How to make stuffed vine leaves – Yozgat style
A “dolma taşı” – you can by these in Fethiye

How to make stuffed vine leaves

How to make stuffed vine leaves – Yozgat style
The first layer…

Now watch this video and you are ready to go.

Cooking time

In the video we suggested the sarma should be cooked for about 20 minutes – but it could be a bit longer. The best thing to do is to check how tender they are before you remove them from the heat by trying one. They should be tasty (of course) soft and incredibly moreish!

Whatever you do, don’t let them boil dry… check the liquid from time to time and add a little more water if necessary.

All we can add is an “afiyet olsun”… That’s bon appétit and, if you make them well and they taste good, ellerinize sağlık!