It’s our everything
The Dolma Festival in Baku has demonstrated the main feature of this dish, ground meat which can be wrapped in any kind of leaf or put in any vegetable. After the event, news portals boasted that as of yet unknown types of dolma were presented at the festival.
Classical Azerbaijani dolma is made with fresh minced lamb (sometimes mixed with beef) with greens and rice, wrapped in grape or cabbage leaves or in tomatoes, bell peppers or eggplants. As in the all other dishes in Azerbaijani cuisine, the focus is on the spices and seasoning used.
How small the dolma leaves are and how neatly they are rolled is ‘sign of the quality’ of a housewife’s work. In Azerbaijani families, all women sit down when they wrap dolma because it’s rather meticulous work. The delicate grape leaves give off a subtle sour aroma and because of the rice, the inner contents don’t gather up into a ball and remain soft.
It’s a surprise from overseas, the Indonesian lemper. It’s meat with rice cooked in coconut milk and wrapped in a banana leaf. Exotic dishes were in demand- there was only one sample left an hour after the festival began
Dolma made with coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) leaves
Dolma made with rose petals
Dolma made with cabbage leaves. It’s not the stuffed cabbage rolls, as some people like to believe. Chopped tomatoes, quince and chestnuts are put into this kind of dolma. As a result, this dolma acquires a nice pink color and a unique taste, with which the taste of stuffed cabbage rolls pale in comparison. Unfortunately, the organizers of the festival did not provide lighting for the exhibits, therefore all and sundry had a pinkish tint under the bright-red tent roofs
A rock with a waterfall created from dolma can be seen here. It was a little bit awkward to taste the waterfall. It’s probably suzma. Suzma is obtained as the result of straining matsoni (a fermented milk product) through a cheesecloth and removing the whey. Dolma, in general, is served with matsoni and sometimes with garlic crumbled into it
All in all, there was a degree of formality surrounding the dolma presented at the festival. Authentic Azerbaijani dolma is cooked for family celebrations by daughters-in-law in the family, under the strict supervision of the mother-in-law. It is prepared from fresh leaves taken from a vine in the yard. The leaves are collected for a few days because they must be of the proper size, while more and more new leaves grow on it daily. Then, the dolma becomes of the size and shape needed, wrapped into neat, tight, quadrilateral wraps. All of the wraps look completely identical. When dolma is served at the table on the fanciest dish the family own, abundantly sprinkled with aromatic juice, it immediately becomes clear to all the guests that there is peace and order in the family, and that housekeeping is done to the highest degree possible.
That’s probably the reason why the debates about dolma’s initial origin (it is also cooked in Armenia, Turkey, Georgia) cause some arguents between people.The dish is sort of a symbol of family foundations and an ancestral honor. In short, it’s our everything.