Serves 6 to 8
Tradition has it that Persian dolmehs, or stuffed vegetables, were the forerunners of the dolmas of Greek, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern cuisines.
• 5 quarts water
• 1 to 2 tablespoons salt
• 4 large green, red, and/or yellow bell peppers, tops, seeds, and membranes removed
• 1 cup basmati rice
• 1/2 cup yellow split peas
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 onion, diced
• 1/2 pound lean ground beef or lamb
• 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, or 1 tablespoon dried
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh summer savory, or 1 tablespoon dried
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup water
1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a smaller pot.
2. Add salt to the water in the large pot. Blanch the pepper cases for 3 minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon, and drain, open ends down.
3. Stir the rice into the pepper water. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, drain, rinse, and drain again. Place the rice in a large bowl.
4. Meanwhile, cook the split peas in the smaller pot for 15 minutes. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Add the split peas to the rice.
5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
6. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet and sauté the onion and ground meat over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and the meat is browned. Add them to the rice and peas.
7. Stir in the herbs and spices and season well with salt and pepper.
8. Fill the pepper cases with the stuffing and place them in a baking dish. Add 1/2 cup water and cover the dish. Bake for an hour or until the peppers are quite tender.
Longtime Herb Companion contributor Carolyn Dille gardens, cooks, and is the author of several cookbooks. She writes in San Jose, California.
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