Savory Iraqi Dolma Without Grape Leaves


Discover a delicious twist on a classic Middle Eastern dish with Savory Iraqi Dolma, a delectable stuffed vegetable recipe that foregoes the traditional grape leaves. This version features an assortment of vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes, filled with a flavorful mixture of rice, ground meat, and aromatic spices. Perfect for family gatherings or a comforting weeknight dinner, this dish offers a burst of flavors in every bite.

Savory Iraqi Dolma Without Grape Leaves

Preparation and Cooking Times

  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours

Servings and Serving Size

  • Servings: 6
  • Serving Size: 1-2 stuffed vegetables

Nutritional Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 350 kcal
  • Protein: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 40 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 8 g
  • Sugars: 10 g
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Cholesterol: 40 mg
  • Sodium: 550 mg


  • Vegetables for stuffing:
    • 4 bell peppers (any color)
    • 4 medium zucchini
    • 4 medium tomatoes
  • Stuffing mixture:
    • 200 grams (7 ounces) ground beef or lamb
    • 1 cup uncooked rice (200 grams / 7 ounces)
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sauce:
    • 2 cups tomato sauce (480 ml / 16 ounces)
    • 1 cup water (240 ml / 8 ounces)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Garnish:
    • Fresh parsley, chopped

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash the bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes.
  2. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds.
  3. Cut the zucchini in half and scoop out the insides, leaving a 1/4-inch thick shell.
  4. Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the insides, reserving the tops.In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, uncooked rice, chopped onion, minced garlic, fresh herbs, tomato paste, and spices. Mix well until thoroughly combined.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Fill each vegetable with the stuffing mixture, pressing down gently to pack it in.
  7. Replace the tops on the tomatoes and bell peppers.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix the tomato sauce, water, olive oil, and lemon juice.
  9. Place the stuffed vegetables upright in a large, deep pot.
  10. Pour the sauce mixture over the stuffed vegetables.
  11. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  12. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the rice is cooked through.
  13. Transfer the stuffed vegetables to a serving platter.
  14. Spoon the sauce from the pot over the top.
  15. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Tips for Culinary Success

  • Vegetable Choice: You can use other vegetables like eggplants or potatoes as well.
  • Rice: Use short-grain rice for a stickier filling that holds together better.
  • Spices: Adjust the spices to your preference for a more personalized flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I make this dish vegetarian?
  • Yes, simply omit the ground meat and increase the amount of rice and vegetables in the stuffing mixture.
What can I do with the scooped-out vegetable insides?
  • You can add them to the stuffing mixture or use them in soups and stews.
Can I freeze the leftovers?
  • Yes, cooked dolma can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat thoroughly before serving.
How can I prevent the vegetables from falling apart during cooking?
  • Make sure not to overstuff the vegetables and cook them at a gentle simmer.

Enjoy the hearty and aromatic flavors of Savory Iraqi Dolma without grape leaves, a comforting and versatile dish that is sure to become a favorite in your home. Each bite is a delightful blend of tender vegetables and flavorful stuffing, making it a perfect meal for any occasion.