Grape Leaves Stuffed With Rice (Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarmasi)

Grape Leaves Stuffed With Rice (Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarmasi)
Grape Leaves Stuffed With Rice (Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarmasi)

2 cups rice
1 tomato, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 onions, shredded
200 gr (1/2 lb) grape leaves, fresh/ preserved
2/3 cup olive oil
3 cups water
½ lemon, sliced
2 tbsp dried mint
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar

In warm water, leave the rice for 30 minutes, then wash and drain.
If you are using fresh grape leaves; Put the leaves in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes till they are soft. Drain and remove the stems. If you are using preserved grape leaves just remove the stems. Place the stems at the bottom of your pot or saucepan. (It is to prevent burning the bottom layer)
Place 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan and let the onions sauté until they change in color. Add the rice and stir a few minutes. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. After a while add 1 cup of hot water and cook until the water evaporates. Finally add ½ cup olive oil, dried mint, black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, salt and sugar and mix them all.
Place each leaf on a plate. Put ½ tablespoon of filling on the larger end of it  fold the two sides in and roll it on like a cigarette . Do not roll them too tight. Place them tightly side by side in a saucepan. Place the lemon slices on the surface and 2 cups of warm water. Put a small lid or plate on top of them. Cover and cook on low heat for 40 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Let cool. Arrange on a serving dish and serve with lemon slices and yogurt.

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