Lebanese grape leaves

“The older generation of Lebanese women, like my mother Maureen, believes that the first grape leaves on the vine are the most tender and make the best stuffed grape leaves,” says Ramona.

Makes about 25

Preparation time: It’s a long process – rope in a few family members!

Cooking time: 1 hour

• 1kg minced lamb

• 250ml uncooked rice

• a good pinch of salt and pepper

• a good pinch of cinnamon

• a good pinch of mixed spice

• juice of 1 lemon

• 15ml fresh parsley, finely chopped

• butter / oil / sheep tail fat

• about 25 grape leaves, blanched

1 To make the filling Mix the meat and rice with the spices and lemon juice. Add the herbs and combine well.

2 Lay 1 grape leaf flat on a work surface and trim the stem, if necessary. Put a spoonful of the filling on top, fold in the edges like you would an envelope then carefully roll up the leaf into a cigar shape. Make sure to roll it up tightly. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

3 If you’re using sheep fat, add it to the bottom of a large pot or, alternatively, dot the pot with butter – this is a very rich dish! Now arrange the grape leaves in a tight spiral on top, adding layers until you’ve used them all up. Add a couple more dots of butter, position a plate snugly on top of the leaves to weigh them down and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. Test to make sure the leaves are tender then carefully lift the grape leaf rolls out with a slotted spoon and serve warm or at room temperature.

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April 2023

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