Biber dolması – Stuffed Peppers
This is a real favourite served up on our gulets. A Turkish and Middle Eastern delicacy that we absolutely love. Biber Dolmasi is fantastically versatile, nicely filling and easy to make.
Ingredients: Serves 6
Extra Virgin Olive oil, about 3 tbsp
12 sweet bell peppers (green is most common, but different colours add to the fun)
100 grams minced lamb or beef (you can do more or less depending on how meaty you would like it)
200 grams rice – about 2 cups, well rinsed and drained of water
5/6 onions (medium sized), finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp raisins
4 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp mint
3 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons sugar
Saute the onions in the oil until transparent. Add the rice and saute on low heat until the grains also look transparent. Add the mince, cook through, then add the garlic, raisins, pine nuts, mint, salt and pepper, and fry gently for another couple of minutes, breathing deeply to suck in the wonderful aromas.
Pour in about 100ml of water and sugar, stir, cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until the water has evaporated. Set aside to cool. If you have a bottle of raki, why not have a glass to get you into the Turkish spirit.
Slice off the tops of the peppers, just the tops, with their stalks in place, and keep for later. Clean out the insides of the peppers, to remove all the seeds, doing your best to keep the bodies of the peppers intact.
Now it’s time to get stuffing. Use a dessert spoon to scoop the mixture into the peppers, ensuring you press down gently after each spoonful to fill all the corners. Once fully stuffed, pop the tops back on as if they were lids, and arrange the peppers on the bottom of a large saucepan with about 350 mls of water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until most of the water has evaporated, and the peppers are tender – about 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, you can put in a medium oven for about the same time.
Serve with a salad, yoghurt, and fresh bread. Stuffed peppers go down well as a main meal, or as a meze.
Other things to stuff: You can also use this mixture to stuff courgettes (zucchini), aubergines (eggplant), or large tomatoes, as well as vine leaves and cabbage leaves.
But I’m vegetarian: No problem. The Turks often make this stuffing vegetarian. Just leave out the meat. In Turkey vegetarian stuffed peppers, vine leaves (dolma), etc. are often served cold, with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice.
Get cooking: Have a go at Biber Dolmasi and let us know what you think. Of course if you want the full bodied experience, you really need to be in Turkey, onboard one of our gulets, gazing at a spectacular landscape, with the sun shining, and voraciously hungry after another swim in an idyllic cove.