Aprax, or Dolma, as they’re more widely known as, are stuffed vegetables slowly simmered and they fill the house with an irresistible scent of fresh herbs, aromatics, and tangy lemons. They are made across all of Kurdistan and many other parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean area. For my vegan Kurdish aprax filling, I’m using rice, brown lentils, and fresh herbs as the base. It gets its tangy flavor from freshly squeezed lemons and pomegranate molasses. You can stuff a mix of any vegetables you prefer, or just go with one vegetable. Here I’m using sun-dried spicy peppers, baby zucchinis, eggplant, onions, and grape leaves.
- 250 g short-grain rice, rinsed & drained
- 200 g cooked brown lentils
- 1 medium bunch dill, finely chopped
- 1 medium bunch parsley, finely chopped
- ⅓ leek finely chopped
- everything you carve out from zucchini, eggplant & core of onions, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp seven spice blend
- 2 tsp Aleppo pepper (or 1 tsp chili flakes)
- 2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
- black pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons, juiced (more or less to taste)
- 3–4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp vegetable stock powder (omit if using vegetable stock instead of water)
- 500–800 ml boiling water or vegetable stock
Veggies to fill:
- I package small sun-dried spicy peppers (around 20)
- 3–4 baby zucchinis
- 2 small eggplants
- 2 big red onions
- 2 big white onion
- ½ jar preserved grape leaves
- 2 big waxy potatoes, sliced 1 cm thick (to cover bottom)
- Core veggies, there are special tools to carve zucchini and eggplant but a small knife will also do the job, just be careful! Soak dried peppers in boiling water for at least 30 minutes, then drain well. Rinse grape leaves thoroughly. Peel and trim bottoms and tops of the onions, cut them from the side halfway, and add to hot salted water for at least 15 minutes to easily peel the layers that we will stuff.
- Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl and adjust salt/lemon/spices to your liking.
- Coat bottom of a large pot with some olive oil and cover with potatoes in a single layer. Stuff the veggies. The easiest way to roll the grape leaves is to lay them flat and place ½ -1 tbsp filling (depending on the size of the leaf) in the center, roll up the bottom part, fold in the edges from the sides, and roll all the way up. Place stuffed veggies tightly in the pot as you go, with the veggies that require longest cooking time closer to the bottom, in this case, the dried peppers.
- Mix together the stock and pour into the pot until just reaching the top layer (not covering). Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer over low heat for 1.5 hours or until veggies are tender and the rice is cooked through. Check on them after 1 hour.
- If flipping the pot before serving please be careful, there will be very hot liquid in there. Traditionally you cover the pot with a large plate or tray and then flip the pot upside down.
Find more of Seiran’s recipes at @legallyplantbased.
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