When it comes to making stuffed grape leaves (“yalanchi”), most Armenian families have their own unique recipes. Robyn Kalajian at thearmeniankitchen.com reports that Vivian Vezirian-Hovsepsian, a cousin from the ‘Dikranagerdsi’ side of her family, was happy to share her family’s recipe that was handed down to her by her beloved mother, Victoria Vezirian. Robyn adds that Vivian thinks this recipe originally came from her maternal grandmother, Gadar Najarian, who was from Dikranagerd.
Vivian prepares fresh grape leaves in the following manner: She picks them when they’re young and tender, parboils the leaves until they change color, drains and cools them, then takes a bunch, stacks and rolls them, squeezing out excess water. She then puts the stacks of leaves in zip lock freezer bags. She says they store indefinitely. She always dates the year the leaves are picked and uses the older batches first. When ready to prepare grape leaves, Vivian puts the frozen leaves in cold water until thawed; drains excess liquid and lets the rolling begin.
3 lbs. finely chopped onions
2 cups olive oil
1 1/2 cups rice (Carolina rice is the best to use in this recipe, Vivian suggests)