Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Making Dolma using Dried Eggplant Skins

At times, it’s not easy to find dried eggplant skins. In October, I happened to be in the heart of the Middle Eastern community in Paterson, NJ, surrounded by more ME stores and restaurants than you could possibly imagine.
Packaged dried eggplant skins

I was pretty confident I'd be able to find the skins even though some ME stores don't carry them. The fact that dried eggplant skins are available this time of year made my search a little easier. After spotting a huge display at Nouri's, I bought two bags - one for me; one for my daughter.
All tied together on a string like a necklace


Their sizes varied and the skin in the center has a large hole in it.
I was especially pleased to find there were 28 dried skins in the bag I bought. Sizes vary, and some were torn or had gaping holes, but that's not a problem.

My bag of dried skins had to endure a flight from NY to FL, so a few got a wee-bit crumbly, but most of them survived.

By the way, if you're in the market for dried eggplant skins, but can’t find them in your area, my friends at Macar and Sons have it in stock right now. You can email them at: info@macarfoods.com, and tell them The Armenian Kitchen sent you! Order several packs because the dried skins will last a very long time in your pantry.


It's time to share the recipe for dolma I promised a few months back. 
Haiganoush  Nanny's Dried Eggplant Skin Dolma recipe made in 'The Armenian Kitchen'

This is the Dried Eggplant Skin Dolma recipe my paternal grandmother, Haiganoush Dabbakian, used to make. My aunt Zabelle Dabbakian Keil (we call her Zippi) sent it to me.

Aunt Zippi’s Directions:

“First of all, purchase the dried eggplant at the Armenian shops, they usually come in one dozen packets.  Sometimes they're very small and other times they're good size.”

Prepare the filling (meechoog):

Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Dolma filling ingredients
Ingredients for filling:
3/4 cup white rice, uncooked (such as Uncle Ben’s parboiled, long-grain rice)
1 pound ground meat – uncooked (lamb, beef or turkey)
1 medium onion, minced
½ of a small bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and finely chopped                                             
2 (14.5-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes (Note: Cut tomatoes into smaller pieces, then use about 1/2 cup for the filling, and reserve the rest to create the sauce for the dolma.)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
Juice of one lemon, divided (use about 1 Tbsp. in the filling; mix the rest with reserved stewed tomatoes for cooking)
olive oil
1 tsp. ground coriander, or to taste
½ tsp. allspice, or to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Aunt Zippi’s directions, continued:

Skins cooking gently
“Put a large pot of salted, boiling water on the stove. Place the dried eggplants in the boiling water, stir a few times to separate them, then allow them to simmer (for about 15 to 20 minutes).  Don't stir too much, as they are fragile and you won't want them to break up. The simmering will soften them up. When you see that they have opened up and softened, turn the heat off and just allow them to stay in the water for just a little while (about another 10 minutes).   When you feel they're soft enough to work with, drain them and allow the eggplants to cool. 
Cooked skins cooling on a rack
Once they have cooled, you can begin working with them by filling them with the prepared "meechoog". (See above) NOTE: Don't pack in too much filling as the rice needs room to expand. 
Filled skins placed in a circle in a large pot
Line the dolmas in a circle in a large pot and when they're all placed, cover all with additional stewed tomatoes which have been diluted with water and also laced with lemon juice. This should cover all the contents. (Place a plate on top of the dolma to weigh them down.) Cover and cook for about one hour.”
Stewed tomatoes placed on top of eggplant

Serve in a bowl with some of the sauce, and/or with plain yogurt, if desired.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this recipe, with the very clear directions on how to reconstitute the eggplants. I just made a (similar) recipe and the directions came in very handy.

    Dried eggplants taste differently from fresh eggplants and it is well worth trying it out to see the difference. They are also thinner than fresh eggplants, so better for stuffing. Mine were on a string that went through the base of the eggplants, so I did not need to poke holes.

    One word of caution: many of the dried eggplant and dried pepper products sold here in LA come from Turkey. Double-check and ask around, unless you want to support the Genocide economy.

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