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Makes 20

20 vacuum-packed vine leaves in brine
3/4 cup long grain brown rice
4 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup pine nuts
4 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp allspice
2 tbsp sumac*
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp tomato purée
sea salt and ground pepper, lemon slices and fresh mint sprigs, to garnish


– Rinse the vine leaves well under cold running water, then drain. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the rice, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until almost cooked. Drain.

– Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add onion and cook until soft. Stir in the pine nuts and cook until lightly browned, then add the raisins, mint, cinnamon, allspice and sumac, with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the rice and mix well. Leave to cool.

– Line a saucepan with any damaged vine leaves. Trim the stalks from the remaining leaves and lay them flat. Place a little filling on each leaf neatly. Place the dolmades side by side in leaf-line pan, so that they fit tightly.

– Mix 1-1/4 cups water with lemon juice and tomato purée in a bowl. Add the remaining olive oil.

– Cover the pan and simmer the dolmades for 1 hour until the liquid has been absorbed and the leaves are tender. Transfer to a platter, garnish with lemon slices and mint and serve hot or cold.

*Sumac a spice with a sharp lemon flavor.