Dolma Made by a Diva

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“’Come on,’ she said. ‘I made some dolma. Stuffed peppers and tomatoes. You’ll love them.’  ‘I ate out.’ ‘You’re crazy, ayol,’ she nagged. ‘I mean, everyone knows what a great cook I am. Yet you go off to some restaurant. Shame on you!'”  – From The Prophet Murders by Mehmet Murat Somer (Kenneth Dakan, transl.)

Meet our hero’s best friend, Ponpon.  She is also a transvestite, but instead of being another amateur detective, she is a stage diva a la The Adventures of Priscilla:  Queen of the Desert.  Her show and her cooking both draw the crowds.  She is described as being plump with a quick growing 5 o’clock shadow.  She is also extremely bossy when she doesn’t get her way, even when she is staying at her friend’s house.

Chicken Dolmas

2 lb ground chicken 

1.5 cups basmati rice

4 cups of chicken  broth

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, pressed

1.5 tsp sugar

1 tsp cayenne pepper 

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and Pepper to taste 

4 bell peppers and 4 small tomatoes with the tops cut off and reserved, and the insides carefully scooped out 

In a medium saute pan, cook the onion in the olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Add the rice and saute until it becomes clear.  Add the chicken and all the spices.  Once the chicken is browned, add the pine nuts and chicken stock.  Cover and cook on low for about 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Add the lemon juice.  Stuff the peppers and tomatoes and place in a baking dish with the remaining cup of chicken broth.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until the peppers and tomatoes are soft.  Serve with the cooking juices spooned over the top.

This dish is just as amazing and Ponpon claimed it would be.  I had some leftover filling that I mixed into the broth around the peppers and that just added to the overall flavor.  The actual spices that were called for in this recipe were cinnamon, pepper paste (a mixture of hot pepper and salt, which is why I added the cayenne), and allspice.  Don’t ask me how I managed run out of cinnamon and not know it.  I made do with what was available and it was delicious all the same.


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Filed under Cooking and Reading, Food, Literature, Recipes, Turkish Food

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