Zakuskis: Dolmasy

We figured you guys might be wanting a little bit…more from just the regular cocktails, vodka tastings and reviews. So after a little brainstorming we are very happy to present the first of a new kind of article here on Vodka Valley: Zakuskis!

We’ll be showing you some quick, simple recipes to create some delicious┬áhors d’oeuvres that will pair very well when sipping on some fine vodka.


You’ve probably seen this one in Turkish and Greek cuisine, and it’s generally a popular snack in the Vodka Belt itself – Dolmas, or Dolmasy, as they are called – are grape leaves with meat stuffing. Absolutely delicious and much easier to make than you think. Here’s what you’ll need.


3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh peas
black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
1 jar of grapes leaves (Check your local Greek specialty store for this)
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1/2 cup white rice
300 grams of lean lamb ground
some plain yogurt
1 tablespoon cinnamon


Melt the butter in a skillet set over moderate heat. Add the onions, lower the heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until lightly colored. Cook the rice as per your preference (in a rice cooker or in a pot). In a fresh bowl, stir in the rice, lamb, coriander, dill, peas, salt and pepper into the onions and stir all the ingredients together lightly but thoroughly. Taste for seasoning.

Next, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan and drop in the grape leaves. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, uncovered, then drain. Flatten them out. Put each leaf the inner side up. Place 1 tablespoon of stuffing in the center of each leaf. Roll leaves, covering the stuffing from the sides like an envelope. Arrange the rolls, seam-side down, in a pan just large enough to hold them in one layer. Pack them in side by side so that they retain their shape while cooking. Pour in the chicken or beef stock and bring to a boil. Cover the casserole tightly, lower the heat, and stew for about 45 minutes.

Serve the grapes rolls with a bowl of yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon. You can serve them chilled too and with wedges of lemon for a little more zing if desired.

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