Authentic Yalanji (Dolmas) Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rolling Tutorial [Vegan, GF]
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Authentic vegetarian and vegan Mediterranean stuffed grape leaves. A recipe for yalanji, also called dolmas, and instructions for how to roll the grape leaves.
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • 1 16 oz. (1 lb.) grape leaves*
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 potato (optional)
  • 1 tomato (optional)
  • 1 lemon (optional)
  • 3¼ cups medium grain rice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz. jar finely diced tomatoes (or 2 large tomatoes, peeled and finely diced)
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp shatta (optional)**
  • 1.5 tbsp pomegranate molasses (or more lemon juice)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Rinse the grape leaves thoroughly in a strainer, to get rid of most of the saltiness. Put grape leaves in a large pot and cover them with water, up to at least an inch over the grape leaves. Bring the pot to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, leave for no more than 1 minute before draining the grape leaves. The grape leaves should be more tender and easier to work with; set them aside.
  2. Prepare the filling. Remove the stems of the parsley bunch, and chop the parsley leaves finely. Combine dry rice with salt, diced tomatoes, chopped parsley, mint, tomato paste, and shatta, and mix together in a large bowl. Pour the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and olive oil over the rice mixture and mix thoroughly.
  3. Now it is time to start rolling the stuffed grape leaves. Cut off the stems of all the grape leaves before rolling them. Place a spoonful of the rice filling about one centimeter from the base of the grape leaf, next to where the stem was, and shape it into a small log. The amount of filling should vary depending on the size of the grape leaf. Make sure you are placing the filling on the veiny side of the leaf, so the outside will be smooth. Roll the base of the grape leaf over the top of the filling and tuck it so it is tightly wrapped. Fold in the sides of the grape leaf inwards over the filling, and then continue to roll the leaf all the way until you reach the end. Set aside. Repeat for all grape leaves.
  4. If you have any leftover filling once you are done rolling all the leaves, you can stuff tomatoes, bell peppers, or any other small vegetable with the filling, and cook them with the grape leaves.
  5. If desired, chop the tomato, potato, and lemon into thin slices to line the bottom of the pot where the grape leaves will be. They absorb the delicious juices of the grape leaves and are tasty to eat alongside the stuffed grape leaves.
  6. Drizzle the 1½ tbsp of olive oil at the bottom of a pressure cooker.*** Line the pressure cooker with the tomato, potato, and lemon slices, reserving a few tomato and lemon slices to place on top later. Then, begin filling the pot with the stuffed grape leaves, packing them tightly in a circular fashion. If you have any gaps, you can stuff them with the extra stuffed vegetables (if you ended up with any). Once all the grape leaves are in the pot, cover them with a plate that is close to the diameter of the pressure cooker. This is to stop the grape leaves from floating to the top. Pour 5½ cups of boiling water and the 2 tbsp of lemon juice over the grape leaves.
  7. Place the pressure cooker on the stove over high heat, and wait for it to whistle. Once it whistles, reduce to medium to medium-high heat and cook for another 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the pot.
  8. Once you are able to open the pressure cooker after it has cooled enough, do so. Check if the plate and leaves have cooled enough to handle. When they have, get a large serving plate ready to flip the dish onto. Holding the plate in the pot, flip the pot upside down onto the serving dish. Slide out the plate from under the grape leaves, and rearrange them if needed. This dish is best served cool, so if desired, place in the refrigerator to cool, or wait at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
*I always use Orlando grape leaves to make stuffed grape leaves! The leaves are very soft and the jar usually has very few, if any, torn leaves. You can easily buy them online.
**Arabic chili and olive oil hot sauce- can substitute chili garlic sauce or any similar chili hot sauce.
***The stuffed grape leaves can be cooked in a normal pot as well, but they will take longer. If not using a pressure cooker, you should bring the water to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, and keep checking to see when they are tender.
Recipe by Zen and Zaatar at