Warab Enab (Stuffed Vine Leaves)

It is once again coming up to Rosh HaShannah and at our house no feast would be a feast without Warab Enab; stuffed vine leaves. We have meat, rice, vegetables and all sorts of other things on the table, but these are the crowning glory – the thing that everyone looks forward to.  Maybe it’s because we only eat them twice a year, or maybe because knowing how much time and effort has gone into making them makes them that extra bit special.  

100 pieces

Ingredients
1 medium new potato
120g pudding rice
500g minced beef or lamb
1 tbsp. baharat
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
100 vine leaves (c. 500g)
1-2 beef tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ½ lemons
3 tbsp. tomato puree
100ml water
Salt and pepper

Method

  • Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and leave to soak in a bowl of water. Finely grate the potato into another small bowl of salted water and set both bowls aside
  • In a separate, large bowl mix the meat, baharat, oil, garlic and a pinch of salt - if you can’t smell the spices in the meat add a little more until you can
  • Drain the potato and squeeze out all excess water. Drain the rice
  • Add the potato and rice to the meat and thoroughly combine - hands work best for this
  • If you have bought your vine leaves, it’s likely they came in brine; immerse and then rinse in water at least twice so that no salt remains on the leaves
  • Taking one leaf at a time, place a heaped teaspoon of the meat and rice mixture at the bottom of the leaf and form into a sausage with the diameter of a finger. Set aside any leaves that are torn or feel especially thick and tough
  • Fold the base of the leaf over the meat and then fold in its sides so that a rectangle is formed
  • Using the palm of your hand roll the leaf upwards until so that it forms a tight, neat roll
  • Line the bottom of a large saucepan with a layer of sliced tomatoes and then cover this in a layer of the larger, tough vine leaves and any stalks you may have
  • Arrange a layer of stuffed vine leaves in tight concentric circles in the pan, followed by another layer of sliced tomato and continue in this way until all the vine-leaves are in the pan. If they don’t all fit, start another pan in the same way as the first. Finish with a final layer of tougher vine leaves
  • Mix the tomato puree, the juice of one lemon, the oil, salt and pepper with the water and pour on top of the vine leaves
  • Place an upside-down heatproof dinner plate on the top of the vine leaves and weigh down with a cooking stone. There should be at least a centimetre border between the plate and the pan
  • Fill the pan with tap water so that the vine leaves are just covered and cover the saucepan with its lid
  • Simmer over a low heat for 2½ hours and then add the remaining lemon juice to the pan
  • Continue to simmer for another half an hour until the meat is cooked and the leaves are soft and tender
  • To serve, flip the pan upside down onto a large plate (as if removing a cake from its tin)