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Iraqi Style Lamb Dolmas

Sweet and sour Iraqi-style lamb dolma filled with lamb, rice, and spices simmered in a tart sauce of tomato and pomegranite molasses. You will need roughly 22 large leaves for stuffing. Serves 4 with leftovers
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Iraqi
Keyword: Dolmas, Ground lamb



  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 cup medium grain rice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baharat seasoning (this is also called seven spice mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon persian dried lime
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium white onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 Tablespoons 1/2 a small can tomato paste
  • 3 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 14-20 large leaves such as collards, chard, kale, sunflower, grape, horseradish, etc, for wrapping the filling

Simmering sauce and finishing

  • 4 lamb or goat loin chops
  • 2 cups lamb stock
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup sumac plus more for garnishing (optional)
  • Fresh chopped mint leaves to garnish (optional)
  • Thickest high-fat yogurt available for serving
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)



  • The night beforehand, put the rice in a bowl with 4 cups of water, stirring to remove starch, then drain and reserve. Mix the ground lamb, rice and remaining filling ingredients well, then allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator, covered. Resting overnight is optional, but will make for a better filling. Mix the lamb stock and sumac if using, whisk until smooth, and allow to rest overnight.

Blanch the leaves

  • Blanch the leaves in lightly salted water until just wilted. Most green leaves can be nearly dipped in hot water and removed. Cabbage leaves should be cooked for 30-60 seconds. Rinse the leaves in a bowl of cool water, then rest in a colander to drain until you need them.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.

Filling the dolma

  • Lay the leaves out on a table vein-side up, and mound scant ¼ cups (2oz) portions into the middle, rolling them up like packages.
  • Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or similar, heat a tablespoon of oil and brown the lamb chops on both sides. Turn the heat off of the pan, then arrange the stuffed leaves on top of the lamb chops, working to make sure that the leaves and meat are as snug as possible.
  • Strain the tomato-sumac liquid, discarding the sumac, then whisk in a bowl with the tomato paste and pour into the pot until it comes 1 inch from the top of the stuffed leaves. You may have some liquid leftover. Put a plate upside-down on top of the pot, pressing it down gently. Bring the pot to a simmer on medium heat until it bubbles around the edges.


  • Put the pot in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven, remove the lid, return the pot to the heat and simmer on medium-low for another 20 minutes. Finally, turn off the heat, put the lid back on the pod, pressing it down gently and carefully draining any residual sauce to use as a condiment. If you really like sour, reduce the sauce in a small pot and add a dash of lemon juice to taste before serving. Make sure to allow the dolma to rest for 20 minutes before unmolding to make it easier.


  • To unmold the dolma, grasp the handle of the pot with a towel, then put a rimmed baking sheet on top of the pot. Invert the baking sheet quickly, remove the pot, and serve with yogurt, fresh chopped mint, and the cooking juices.