Warak Einab and Labneh

Warak Einab. Dolma. Dolmades. Vine Leaves. Aren't they just the most delicious? I was thinking about how peculiar it was to a person who'd never eaten vine leaves to be served vine leaves for the first time. The texture may not suit some but the taste is universally delicious. Garlic, mint, lemon, rice and lamb? Yes, please! However, I opted for a really old fashioned recipe. This version contains no rice and no meat whatsoever. I've also paired it with a thick Labneh (click here for recipe) because it adds a much needed cool creaminess to the dish. I'm sorry that I only have one photo and that the recipe may not be exact but I think it's definitely worth the hassle.

1 pack vacuum packed vine leaves (around 80 but you only need half)
3 beef tomatoes
2 medium sized potatoes
2 medium sized onions
1 1/4 cups bulghur wheat
4 spring onions
1/2 cup of parsley
2 tbsp chopped mint
1 tsp unsmoked sweet paprika
2 tbsp tomato concentrate
4 cups of water
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 -2 tbsp olive oil

Okay, first up you need to the know the technique for rolling these bad boys. You need to place each leaf completely flat on a chopping board (rougher side facing down) before proceeding to cut off the stem at the bottom of the leaf (if it's still there). You need to spoon one to two teaspoons of mixture into the centre (just a tiny bit below dead-on) before rolling the right and left hand sides of the leaf inwards. You then roll the bottom up (not too tight) making sure to keep the opening at the bottom (so it doesn't unroll). Now onto the stuffing...

Stuffing and Cooking
Chop the spring onions and 2 beef tomatoes really finely before adding to the bulghur wheat. Add half the tomato paste, half the paprika, the parsley, the mint and seasoning to the wheat before making sure to mix well so everything is distributed evenly. You can add a splash of water or olive oil to give the mixture a better feel. Roll the vine leaves as above. This should make 40. Slice the potatoes, onions and the remaining tomato and add to the bottom of a large pan. Gently place each of the stuffed vine leaves on top of the potatoes, onions and tomato in the pan. Add the rest of the paprika and tomato paste, olive oil, lemon juice, water and some seasoning (the vine leaves should be 3/4 immersed). Bring to a slow simmer and place a cover on and cook for 25 - 30 minutes on a low heat. Some of the vine leaves may have torn but that's okay. Leave the vine leaves to cool slightly before serving with a spoonful of Labneh. Mmm.


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