Dolma (Stuffed Grape Leaves), Iraqi-Style

Total Time
Prep 45 mins
Cook 1 hr 15 mins

This Middle Eastern dish is a family favorite. The blend of the spices coupled with the tartness of the lemon makes it out of this world. This recipe has been passed down in my family for many years.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Soak grape leaves in water for 20 minutes. Drain.
  2. Peel and slice carrots lengthwise and line bottom of pot with them. This helps keep the grape leaves from sticking to the pot.
  3. Soak rice in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. In a large bowl, combine rice, beef, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and all spices.
  4. Place each grape leaf shiny side down with stem end toward you on a flat surface. Cut off stem. Place 1 tbsp of rice mixture on leaf near the stem end. Roll top over once, fold ends in, and continue to roll completely (rolling away from you). Repeat with remaining leaves.
  5. Arrange rolled grape leaves in pot seam side down, tightly packed. Place each layer in opposite direction of previous layer, in a criss-cross fashion. For even cooking, try to have no more than 4 layers.
  6. Combine lemon juice and oil and pour over grape leaves. Top with water until approximately 1" below top layer.
  7. Place large plate on top, and place a heavy weight on plate (a foil-wrapped brick works great).
  8. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until rice is thoroughly cooked. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Serve with lemon wedges or Greek yogurt. Enjoy!
Most Helpful

I live in Michigan, years ago a Chaldean lady I worked with made grape leaves for a potluck and they were out of this world! Since then, I have been searching for a similar tasting recipe with no luck. Finally, 15+ yrs later I stumbled across this recipe by accident. I was so excited to try this recipe using spices I've never cooked with before, the kids had a blast rolling them. These are absolutely phenominal! I used 1 lbs beef & 1 lbs lamb mix. These were a big hit. The carrots picked up all the flavor and made a great side. I love finding authentic family recipes like this. They are always the best! Thank you so much for sharing!! Angie, I hope you are willing to post more family tradtions in the future!!!

Firems911 October 24, 2009

I moved from Michigan about two years ago to Virginia--where the Arabic population is practically nonesistent and I was craving the dolma my Chaldean neighbors used to make and bring over to us. I've looked at different recipes and this was the only one that brought back childhood memories of eating dolma at my neighbor's house because so many of them were Lebanese style or a different variation. Thank you very much for bringing back memories!!

vnguyen18 October 01, 2011

Very good masha Allah!! I just used tomato paste, realised at the last minute I had no lemon so I used tamarind mixed with water which worked well. I did not add nutmeg as we do not consume intoxicants. The carrots were yummy too! I will make this again for sure, next time with freshly squeezed lemon to see how that is.

UmmBinat August 30, 2010