Notes you may add more lemon juice, the cinnamon and the allspice must be a level teaspoon.
If using vine leaves in brine, first drain them then put them in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure the water penetrates well between the layers and let the leaves soak for 20 minutes. Drain. Soak in fresh cold water then drain again and repeat the process once more. This will remove the excess salt.
Soak and stir the rice in boiling water, and then rinse it under cold tap. Drain thoroughly. In a bowl mix the rice with the tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, cinnamon, allspice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff the leaves with this mixture:
Place 1 leaf vein side up. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on the center near the stem edge. Fold the stem up over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle and roll up like a small cigar. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand. This process will become easier after you have rolled a few. Fill the rest. Continue until the filling is used up.
Pack them tightly in a pan lined with tomato slices or leftover grape leaves and occasionally slip in a whole clove of garlic if you choose.
Mix the olive oil with 1/2 cup water and the saffron if used. Add the sugar and the lemon juice, pour the mix over the stuffed leaves. Put a small plate on top fot he leaves to prevent unwinding, cover the pan and simmer for at least 2 hours or until the rolls are cooked thoroughly. Add water occasionally, a cup at a time as the liquid in the pan becomes absorbed. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve Cold.
Persian: Add 2 tbsp chopped dill and 2/4 cup seedless raisins or currants to the filling. You may also use hummus or chickpeas: Soak about 1/2 cup in water overnight. Crush in mortar and add to filling. Reduce rice by 1/3 cup. You may also add 1/3 cup pine nuts for variation.