(Photo Credit: Daniel Allen)
(Photo Credit: Daniel Allen)
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How To Make Stuffed Grape Leaves, an Ancient Treat That Crosses Borders

Video: With a splash of lemon juice and a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, and currants, this Armenian recipe is perfect for summer

by
Joan Nathan
August 19, 2015
(Photo Credit: Daniel Allen)
(Photo Credit: Daniel Allen)

Stuffed grape leaves are one of the oldest recipes still popular today, originating thousands of years ago in the Fertile Crescent. Each Jewish community around the Middle East has its own variation on these hand-held treats, whether Greek, Iraqi, or Persian. But my absolute favorite version is one I tasted in Jerusalem, in the Armenian Quarter just down the road from David’s Tower inside the entrance to the Old City.

The Armenian Christian community dates back to the fourth century CE. By the early 20th century, thousands of Armenians were living in Palestine, with the majority in Jerusalem, many coming as tile-makers to decorate the city’s mosques. Today the number of Armenians in the Old City has dwindled to a few hundred.

Armenians, like Jews, have been merchants for centuries and thus learned about new food innovations before the rest of the population in the places where they lived. It shows in this recipe: The flavor-packed mixture of sautéed onions, rice, currants, dill, spices like cinnamon, allspice, and cardamom, and lots of lemon makes this recipe for stuffed grape leaves better than any other. A good recipe like this travels beyond borders.

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Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.

The Recipe


Armenian Stuffed Grape Leaves

Armenian Stuffed Grape Leaves

Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.

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