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iraqi dolma recipe with sauce over it
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4.75 from 4 votes

Instant Pot Grape Leaf Dolma Recipe

Assyrian Grape Leaf Dolma, cooked in an Instant Pot. Served with garlic and dill yogurt and spicy tomato sauce.
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Resting Time15 mins
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Assyrian, Middle Eastern
Servings: 11 servings
Calories: 325kcal
Author: Hilda Sterner


  • Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot



  • 110 fresh grape leaves
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice
  • 1 medium onion (minced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup fresh dill (chopped)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 lb beef or lamb (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice

Cooking Liquid

  • cups water
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Spicy Red Sauce

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup onion (minced)
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup water

Yogurt Sauce

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh dill (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (pressed)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon citric salt (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice)



  • Use the larger and thicker leaves to line the bottom of the Instant Pot. This helps to prevent the dolma from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning. These leaves don't need to be blanched.
  • Boil a pot of water, while you prepare the grape leaves by washing them thoroughly. Stack leaves in groups of 10. Using tongs, dip one stack of grape leaves at a time into boiling water and flip when their color begins to change from bright green to olive. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Drape the leaves over the edge of a colander to drain. Repeat with the remaining leaves until all the leaves have been blanched. 
  • Wash and rinse rice and add to a large bowl. Add chopped onion, garlic, dill, and parsley. Top with tomato paste, and spices. Mix thoroughly to combine. Make sure there are no clumps of tomato paste left.
  • Add meat, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. 
  • Lay grape leaves on a flat surface with the spines facing up and smooth side down. Add approximately one tablespoon of filling to the center of each leaf. Fold the sides over the filling and roll the leaf from the bottom up.
  • Add the dolma into the Instant Pot bowl in rows. Do not overcrowd, as the rice will expand as it cooks. Sprinkle each row with dillweed (optional). I ended up with four rows containing 25, 30, 30, and 25 dolmas.

Prepare Dolma Cooking Sauce

  • Whisk the sauce ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  • Pour the sauce carefully over the dolma. Cover the Instant Pot with the lid and set the vent to Seal. Select High Pressure and set the cooking time to 20 minutes. It will take approximately 10 minutes to come to pressure. When the time is up, do a Natural Release for 15 minutes then release the remaining pressure if necessary. 

Spicy Red Sauce

  • Heat oil in the same saucepan used to make the dolma sauce. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional minute. Sprinkle with paprika, cayenne, and continue to stir until combined. Cook for a few more minutes.
  • Finally, add the water and mix until smooth. Turn down the heat and simmer for an additional five to ten minutes

Yogurt Sauce

  • While the dolma is cooking, mix the yogurt, garlic, dill, salt, and citric acid. Chill until ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions

  • Allow the stuffed grape leaves to rest for 15 minutes so that they don't fall apart when being served. Carefully add dolma to a plate. Cover with yogurt sauce and the spicy red sauce. Serve with Pita Bread on the side. 


Nutrition info is for 10 dolmas without yogurt or sauce.
  • If your pot comes to pressure and you get the "burn" error message, which seems to be an issue with some models, allow the dolma to cook for the same time suggested. The built-up pressure will still cook the dolma. Release the pressure 45 minutes from the time you started the Instant Pot.
  • If you're serving a large crowd or your family, place a flat platter over the Instant Pot bowl and quickly invert the bowl. This should dislodge all the dolma onto the platter. Then your family or guests can serve themselves, Iraqi style!
  • When rolling the dolma, I like to roll five at a time. I lay five leaves out first, then add the filling, and finally roll all five, then repeat. It seems to speed up the process.
  • If you want to make this a vegetarian recipe, replace the meat with an additional cup of rice. You can also add some minced mushrooms.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 680mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g