My favorite Middle Eastern meal of all would have to be Warak Enab, Stuffed Grape Leaves. When you first see Warak Enab, you may not think it looks very appetizing, but it is very delicious. Warak Enab is grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat. While the preparation is quite time consuming, it pays off in the end.
- 1 1/2 lbs. uncooked ground beef or ground lamb
- 2 cups uncooked white rice (Egyptian rice works best)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup of lemon juice
- 1 16 oz. jar grape leaves or 1 lb. fresh vine leaves
- Remove grape leaves from jar and soak for a few hours in cold water. This will lessen the salty taste.
- While grape leaves are soaking, mix together ground beef, rice, parsley, coriander, salt, and pepper with your hands. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to stuff leaves.
- Drain grape leaves and dry with paper towels.
- Remove stems.
- Place leaves shiny side down.
- Place about a teaspoon of the rice and meat mixture near the bottom of the leaf. Fold in sides and roll upwards firmly, but not too tightly. The rice expands during cooking and may tear the leaf.
- Repeat with remaining leaves and rice.
- In a large dutch oven, place the rolls side by side in circular layers.
- Fill pot with water, covering the leaves. Sprinkle some salt and pepper.
- Place an inverted (heat resistant) plate on top of the leaves. This will ensure that the leaves do not move around during cooking.
- Heat to boiling, then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Pour lemon juice over the leaves.
- Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until rice is tender.
- Let stand for a few minutes before serving.
Warak Enab is generally served as an appetizer or a main dish. It can be eaten with an Arabic salad and some plain Greek Yogurt.
Variations of the recipe:
Some people cook Warak Enab with tomatoes, potatoes, or lamb bones. Warak Enab is served warm however there is also a slightly different type made with no meat and served cold.