Saturday, 8 September 2012

On the roll!

Silver beet dolmades



The word roll has an onomatopoeic significance of another sort- the word resounds with promise. A salad roll sounds more exotic than the ordinary vegetable sandwich in a baguette. Dinner rolls are buns that have just given themselves a promotion.

But a roll is a thing that everyone has an opinion on.

Whatever the reason, most of us like rolls of all descriptions. The joy of biting into a double delight is a bonus that can’t be spurned. Or we may end up eating only the filling and discarding the covering, or vice versa. But we are game for a roll!

No exception to this, I love rolls, sweet and savoury, fried and steamed, mains and desserts, of every level of complexity- from the simple chapati and gur or sugar and ghee roll that mother would quickly rustle up for us hungry kids to the dolmades (vine and cabbage) from Greece, the felafel pita roll from the Middle East, the Italian cannelloni, the Vietnamese rice paper rolls, the Gujarati khandavi, the Marathi aluvadi, the Telugu poothreku, the wonderful cream puff rolls of Hyderabad, the Chinese spring roll!

So here is one of my favourites, dolmades, not in vine leaves, but in good old versatile silver beet or Swiss Chard! 

Ladies and gentlemen, let the curtains roll!

Silver Beet Dolmades


10 large silverbeet leaves
2 cups soft cooked rice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic, or more
3 ripe medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
½ teaspoon paprika
A pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of water (approximately)
4 teaspoon lemon juice / vinegar

Stuffing - Combine cooked rice, onion, garlic, tomatoes, mint, parsley, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, nutmeg and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl.
Preparing silver beet leaves - Remove the hard stem running into the vein in the centre of the large leaf. Don’t discard the hard stems. Cut the leaves into two lengthwise, cutting broad ribbons. Wilt the leaf ribbons in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Rolling the leaves - Take a portion of the stuffing and shape it like a bullet using your hands and place it on a ribbon. Fold the bottom of the ribbon over the filling, fold the sides in, and roll up. Don't roll too tightly. The rice will need some room to expand during steaming, although it is already cooked.

Cooking the leaves - In a shallow frying pan, arrange the hard stems and other discarded bits and pieces, or the outer leaves of cabbage, like a bed. Add two cups of water and the vinegar or lemon juice to the pan. Place rolls closely together, seam side down on the bed of the hard stems and leaves. Heat the pan and let the water come to a rolling boil. Cover the pan with a lid and let the water simmer for about 10 minutes. When you see the silver beet leaves look dark green and fully wilted, switch off the heat.

Cool the rolls slightly and serve with lemon wedges and a yogurt dip, tzatziki or a pizza sauce. These rolls can be chilled and served as part of a mezze platter!


  1. Interesting twist to the dish... Not a great fan of silver beet. But would like to try one

    1. Do try it Akshaya! Silver beet scores on spinach at times. I have made alu-vadi with silver beet- will post soon!


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