Assyrian Dolma Recipe (using Swiss chard)

Assyrian Dolma Recipe (using Swiss chard)

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I’m excited to be sharing my Swiss Chard Dolma recipe today! Of course, you’ve heard of grape leaf dolma, and cabbage dolma, but have you heard of Swiss Chard Dolma? Assyrians call this dolma “Dolma’t Silka.” It might not be as popular as Grape leaf, or Cabbage Dolma, but it’s still equally delicious! Furthermore, Swiss chard is readily available at many grocery store. So if you don’t want to get caught stealing your neighbor’s grape leaves (see picture below), might I suggest this Swiss Chard Dolma recipe instead?

picking grape leaves
Caught in the act, my relatives (who shall remain nameless) helping themselves to the neighbor’s grape leaves. With the abundance of leaves, can you blame them?
swiss chard leaves

Swiss Chard Dolma Recipe

Whoever came up with the idea of using Swiss Chard to make dolma was a genius! Besides being easily obtainable, Swiss Chard has the perfect texture for rolling. Not to mention, a tangy flavor somewhat similar to grape leaves. The large leaves can be portioned into six pieces each, after removing the thick spines and stems, which can be used to line the bottom of the pot. Although the leaves are pretty soft and pliable, a quick blanching is still needed, before filling and rolling them.

chard in a bowl
dolma

Cabbage Dolma

The steps to making Cabbage Dolma are quite similar to making Swiss Chard dolma. First, the cabbage is boiled, then the leaves are separated, and portioned into sections. A mixture of rice, diced meat, herbs, and spices is used to stuff the leaves. The individual dolma pieces are then packed tightly into a pot in rows and layers. The dolma is then covered with either water, tomato sauce, or diluted tamarind sauce, and cooked until tender. Although traditionally Cabbage Dolma is not served with the spicy red sauce and yogurt sauce, I always serve it with both.

Cabbage Dolma

“Dolma’t Renjeh” or “Dolma of Colors”

Yet another popular Assyrian dolma is known as “Dolma’t Renjeh.” The Assyrian word “renjeh” means “colors.” This name does a good job of describing the dolma since it is made up of various colorful vegetables. This includes tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, onions, grape leaves, and green peppers. These vegetables are first cored and seasoned with salt and pepper. Next, the vegetables are stuffed with a mixture of rice, diced meat, herbs, and spices. Water or a tomato sauce is then poured over the entire pot, and the dolma is cooked for an hour or so, or until the rice is tender.

dolma made with grape leaves, tomatoes, and green peppers

Grape Leaf Dolma

“Grape Leaf Dolma” is known as “Dolma’t Tarpeh” in Assyrian. Of all the dolma varieties, Grape Leaf Dolma is probably the most popular. “It’s served not only in Middle Eastern, Mediterranian, and Greek restaurants but is also available pre-packaged at specialty grocery stores. Similar to process of making Swiss Chard, and Cabbage Dolma, grape leaves are first blanched, then stuffed with a rice and herb mixture. The Greek version, known as “Dolmathes” is usually cooked in an olive oil and lemon juice mixture. Dolmathes are not as heavily spiced as the Assyrian version.

dolmathes with yogurt

How to Prepare Swiss Chard Dolma 

My Dolma Recipe

  • Boil a pot of water, while you prepare the Swiss chard leaves by washing thoroughly.
  • Slice each leaf into 6 pieces (make sure to cut off the spine).
swiss chard dolma recipe
  • Use the spines and stems to line the bottom of a 6 or 8-quart Dutch oven. If you don’t have enough, you can use grape or cabbage leaves. This helps to prevent the dolma from burning. Alternatively, steaks can be used to line the bottom of the pot.

grape leaves on the bottom of a pot for dolma recipe
  • Dip approximately 4 to 6 Swiss Chard leaf sections into boiling water for a few seconds. Drain the blanched leaves in a colander. Repeat until all the Swiss chard has been blanched.

chard dolma recipe
  • In a large bowl, mix the filling ingredients (starting with the rice, and ending with the cayenne pepper).
rice mixture
  • Add oil, lemon juice, and tomato paste. Mix thoroughly until the tomato paste is evenly distributed.
rice and tomato mixture
  • Place approximately one tablespoon of filling in the center of Swiss Chard leaves and roll into a tight cigar shape. Place in tight rows in the Dutch oven. Repeat until the entire stuffign mixture and Swiss chard are used up.
Assyrian dolma recipe
dolma rows
  • If you have extra filling left, you can use it to stuff peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, grape leaves, or onions.
  • Cover with the lid, and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until juices are released.
swiss chard dolma and stuffed onions in a pot

The Cooking Liquid

  • Meanwhile, combine cooking liquid ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • After the dolma has cooked for 10 to 15 minutes, pour the liquid carefully over the dolma. Cover with a large, flat plate (optional). This helps to keep the dolma submerged in the cooking liquids.
swiss chard and onion dolma
  • Turn the heat down very low and cook the dolma for 45 minutes to one hour. The rice should be very tender, and the dolma should melt in your mouth.
swiss chard dolma coved with a plate
Serve with spicy red sauce and yogurt sauce (see recipes below).

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dolma with yogurt and red sauce

For more on the benefits of Swiss chard, check out this article.

5 from 4 votes
swiss chard dolma recipe
Assyrian Dolma Recipe
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hrs
 

Assyrian Dolma, made with Swiss Chard. 

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Assyrian, Middle Eastern
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 479 kcal
Author: Hilda Sterner
Ingredients
Filling:
  • 3 bunches Swiss chard
  • 2 cups rice (washed)
  • 1/2 medium onion (minced)
  • 1 cup chopped purslane (optional)
  • 1 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley (chopped)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 T. dill weed
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 oz. tomato paste
Cooking Liquid:
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. citric acid
Spicy Red Sauce:
  • 2 T. avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup onion (minced)
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 2 T. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional)
  • 1 cup water
Yogurt Sauce:
  • 4 cups plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. sour salt
  • 1 clove garlic (pressed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill (chopped)
Instructions
Dolma:
  1. Boil a pot of water, while you prepare the Swiss chard leaves by washing thoroughly. 

  2. Slice each leaf into 6 pieces (cutting along the spine). Repeat with the remaining Swiss chard. 

  3. Use the spines and thicker pieces that are hard to roll to line the bottom of a 6 or 8-quart Dutch oven. If you don’t have enough, you can use grape leaves or cabbage. This helps to prevent the dolma from burning. 

  4. Dip approximately 4 to 6 Swiss Chard leaf sections into boiling water for a few seconds and drain in a colander. Repeat until all the Swiss chard has been blanched. 

  5. In a large bowl, mix the filling ingredients (starting with the rice, and ending with the cayenne pepper).

  6. Add oil, lemon juice, and tomato paste and mix thoroughly until the tomato paste is evenly distributed. 

  7. Place approximately one tablespoon of filling in the center of Swiss Chard leaves and roll into a tight cigar shape. Place in tight rows in the Dutch oven. Repeat until the entire mixture and Swiss chard are used up.

  8. If you have extra filling left, you can use it to stuff peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, grape leaves, or onions. 

  9. Cover with the lid, and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until juices are released. 

Cooking Liquid
  1. Meanwhile, combine cooking liquid ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. 

  2. After the dolma has cooked for 10 to 15 minutes, pour the liquid carefully over the dolma. Cover with a large, flat plate (optional). This helps to keep the dolma submerged in the cooking liquids.

  3. Turn the heat down to very low and cook the dolma for 45 minutes to one hour. The rice should be very tender, and the dolma should melt in your mouth.

Spicy Red Sauce:
  1. Heat oil in the same small saucepan.

  2. Add onion and cook until translucent.

  3. Add tomato paste and paprika and stir over medium heat for a few minutes.

  4. Add salt, cayenne, and water and stir until the tomato paste is completely dissolved. 

  5. Turn down the heat and cook for an additional ten minutes.

Yogurt Sauce:
  1. Mix yogurt and water, until the yogurt is diluted into a sauce.

  2. Add the remaining yogurt sauce ingredients and mix to incorporate.

  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serving Instructions
  1. Allow the dolma to rest for 15 minutes or so. During this time the extra liquid will be reabsorbed. If a large group is eating together, place a large flat tray over the top and quickly flip the pot over. This takes some technique. If you don’t feel confident in doing this, either serve the dolma from the pot or transfer individual pieces onto a serving platter.

  2. Serve the yogurt and red sauce on the side. Each person will then top the dolma with some yogurt, followed by the spicy red sauce. 

  3. Pita bread can be served on the side. 

Nutrition Facts
Assyrian Dolma Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 479 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 986mg43%
Carbohydrates 55g18%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 9g18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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