Dear fellow foodies and those seeking exotic dishes,
Today I’m sharing with you a very delicious recipe that is very dear to my heart. Its called Yaprakh (pronounced like “Yah-p-rakh”). This recipe is mainly cooked in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), especially in Slemani - the town where I come from. You’ll find it on the table of every feast, and on average, every household enjoys it once a week. Even though it needs a lot of ingredients and involves a few steps, it is fairly simple - all it takes is some love and care and you’ll be good to go. Ingredients: - 1/2 Kilogram of grape leaves - 1/4 Kilogram of oriental rice - 1 Kilogram of half-cooked, unpeeled broad beans - 1/2 Kilogram of ribs (preferably sheep) - 100 grams of Lemon Juice - Medium sized box of Turkish yoghurt - 1 Head of garlic - 2 Handfuls of washed , finely cut dill - 2 green onions - Olive oil - Salt & Pepper Step 2: Preparing and Layering the Meat
At this point, you should start preparing the meat by roasting the pieces in the oil. Cook until crispy on both sides.
Once the meat is cooked, add boiled water to it. Note: it is important that the meat is not cooked completely through. It will finish cooking once we place it in the pot with the rolled leaves for an hour.
Place the half boiled, half-cooked meat at the bottom of the big size pot. Be sure to spread it evenly along the bottom of the pan. Next, grab some of the half-cooked broad beans and place them as the second layer to make a nice base for the rolled grape leaves.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Yaprakh. You have the broad beans resting gloriously on a mountain of rolled grape leaves of delicious rice and meat. Don’t panic if the mold starts falling apart - as you need to take it apart in order to eat it, but surely after you’ve taken a photo of it!
As we say in Kurdish, “Afiettan bet!”
Step 1: Making the Stuffing
In a large bowl, add all the rice and the yoghurt. Note: there should be an equal ratio of yogurt to rice. The result should be a thick stuffing that can be molded together in order to be put it inside the grape leaves.
Add the salt, pepper, olive oil and dill. Then add 5-6 finely cut pieces of garlic to the mix. Be sure to keep mixing with each new addition.
At this step you can add more lemon or salt to taste, but it is important to note that you have a smooth texture.
Boil the broad beans until they’re half cooked.
Step 3 : Stuffing and Rolling the Grape Leaves
Place a small amount of stuffing inside a leaf. Grab one side of the leaf and pull it to the opposite side. Repeat this with the other side of the leaf in order to close both ends. The shape we’re aiming for is either square or rectangle stuffed leaves.
Once stuffed, place every grape leaf on top of the bean and meat base. This will create the third layer. Continue this process of adding layers of the rolled leaves.
Then place an additional layer of meat on top of the grape leaves. Top this layer with more rolled leaves. Repeat these processes of meat and grape leaf layers until you’ve filled up the pot. Be sure to leave some space for juices to freely bubble up. If you have extra broad beans left, you can add them to the final layer - the more the merrier!
Place the pot on medium heat. Cook until it boils, for approximately 15-20 minutes.
Then, turn down the heat to simmer. Place a large, heavy plate on top of the final layer to compress it altogether and to concentrate the taste and heat.
After 10 minutes, take one of the rolled leaves and taste it. The leaf should tears easily and smoothly and the rice should be well-cooked.
Let the dish cool. In the meantime, grab a large tray that will be used to flip the contents in the pot upside down, onto the tray. Once flipped, it should come out like this