Photo by Siroon Parseghian

Recipe Corner: Basoots Dolma (Lenten Tolma)

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The new Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook is a joint project between the creator of YouTube’s Vegan Armenian Kitchen, Lena Tashjian, a writer and vegan recipe developer based in Toronto, and Siroon Parseghian, a photographer and creative director based in Los Angeles. This is one of many vegan recipes presented in this colorful and instructive cookbook. According to Lena, this dolma is “served in a preserved cabbage leaf and contains lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans, and grains (spelt or bulgur), mixed with spices. It is served cold and sometimes with dried apricot.” She adds, “It is a vegan’s dream come true – a complete protein packed with iron and B-12 (from the pickled cabbage), and it’s delicious.”

In Armenian and many Middle Eastern cuisines, dolma refers to a family of stuffed vegetable dishes, most often wrapped in grape or cabbage leaves. Use this same filling — and a similar cooking technique — to hollow out and stuff zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, or peppers. Dolma taste best served warm or cool (like this recipe), and leftovers can be re-steamed one or more times as desired.

Basoots Dolma (Lenten Tolma)

Ingredients:

1 head of sour preserved cabbage (see page 164 of the cookbook) or pickled cabbage

1 cup cooked chickpeas

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1 cup cooked red kidney beans

1 cup cooked green lentils

1 cup fine bulgur

2 large onions, finely chopped

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1⁄4 bunch parsley

1⁄4 bunch dill

2 teaspoons dried purple basil (optional)

1⁄2 teaspoon savory (optional)

Salt, black pepper, and red pepper, to taste

12 prunes (optional)

7 tablespoons oil

4 cups hot water

Preparation:

Rinse the cabbage leaves to remove some of the excess salt (optional). Set a few of the smaller or damaged ones aside to line the pot they will cook in. Sauté the onion in the oil until translucent and remove from heat. Combine the chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils, and bulgur in a large bowl and mix well. Add the herbs (fresh and dry), 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, salt, black pepper, red pepper, sautéed onions, and the oil from the pan, and combine well. Taste and adjust spices as desired.

Line a large pot with the cabbage leaves set aside earlier. Place a rinsed cabbage leaf flat on a plate or cutting board, add a generous amount of the bean-and-bulgur mixture in the middle and begin tightly rolling it, folding in the sides as you go. Start arranging the first layer of cabbage rolls in the pot by packing in the rolls as tightly as possible. Before beginning the next layer, insert a few prunes between the cabbage rolls. Repeat until finished. In a cup, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons tomato paste with 4 cups of hot water and a pinch of coarse sea salt, and stir.

Place a heavy plate on top of the full pot of cabbage rolls and pour in the tomato paste–water mixture down the sides so it doesn’t splash up. On low-medium heat, bring the pot to simmer then cook covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cabbage is soft enough to easily pierce with a knife. Allow to cool and serve garnished with remaining prunes.

Serves 10-12.

(Published in January 2020, the Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook is a collection of plant-based recipes and stories from Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora. The 265-page book contains 119 recipes, and covers a range of items, including herbs, pastes, syrups, drinks, breakfast, salads, soups and stews, bread, main dishes like various types of dolma (tolma) and bean dishes, accompaniments (especially various rice, bulgur and potato dishes) and desserts. Information is provided on folk practices like reading coffee grounds or toasting customs. The photographs make the various food items seem tantalizingly close and appealing. The Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook can be ordered on the Vegan Armenian Kitchen website, where recipes, videos, and more will be shared. While the majority of recipes found in the cookbook are naturally plant-based or Lenten, Lena Tashjian has veganized a few Armenian classics, including khash.) Order at: https://veganarmeniankitchen.com/product/vegan-armenian-kitchen-cookbook/

References:

https://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/2013/12/basooc-dolma-vegan-dish.html

Recipe Corner: The New Vegan Armenian Kitchen Cookbook

https://www.instagram.com/veganarmeniankitchen/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzbWH4ztnuCp4JMIOUdIAtw