Zeytinyagli Kuru Dolma – Stuffed Sun Dried Vegetables In Olive Oil

I’m quite happy today, because I just received a job offer, one that is related to my profession. I already have loads of other work stuff to do, but I am very much inclined to quit everything else and accept this one.

Anywayz, other than the good news, “Eid” has passed already and we of course visited my parents and in-laws in. On the eve of Eid I baked a cake with damson plums and cooked stuffed sun dried vegetables in olive oil. I took those to Gallipoli with me hoping to be the star of our family gathering :). I don’t know if I succeeded but everyone seemed quite satisfied with both the dolma and the plum cake.

I had bought the sun dried vegetables from Kahramanmaras last month. I also took pictures of the home-prepared ones in the process of drying. They hang carved vegetables on balconies on a clean thread and everyday around noon time covered the vegies with a huge clean cloth to avoid any discoloration from the direct sunlight for around 2 weeks until they dry out completely.

Here’s how to stuff the dolma and prepare one of the best cold dishes of Turkish cuisine:

Ingredients (makes around 55-60 dolmas):

3 liters of boiling water, salted

55-60 pieces of carved and sun dried vegetables, zucchini, capsicums, eggplants, cucumbers…etc

3 medium-large onions, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup + 1/2 cup of olive oil

3 cups of rice (or 1 level tablespoon for each dolma), washed and drained

1 teaspoon of ground blackpepper

1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

2 tablespoons of sumac

1 tablespoon of dried mint flakes

1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/4  + 1/4 cup of pomegranate syrup (replace with 2 cups of pomegranate juice if not available, reduce water amount accordingly)

1 cup + 3 cups of boiling water

2 tablespoons of salt

Boil all the carved and dried vegetables starting with the zucchini, continue with the capsicums and finally boil the eggplants all in separate batches, for around 15-20 minutes until almost-cooked, check with a fork if necessary. Remove with a slotted spoon and soak in cold water for 10 seconds to preserve the color.

In a steel pot (remember, a steel cookware is a must when making olive oil dishes, it tastes a hundred times better that way), cook the onions with 1/2 cup of olive oil on low heat until they turn pinkish yellow and add in the rice, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, sumac and roast 2-3 minutes until the flavors are released. Add in the mint, parsley, 1/4 cup of pomegranate syrup and 1 cup of boiling water. Turn the heat off once the rice absorbs all the water.

Stuff each piece of carved vegetables with 1 heaped tablespoon of this rice filling. Make sure you leave at least one cm empty inside every dolma to avoid overflow. Line the dolmas horizontally in a wide steel pot, for no more than 3 layers. It’s better if you line them parallel to the sides of the pot, and place the filled bottoms on top of the open sides. Cover with a round heavy heat-proof plate. There is something called a “dolma stone” here in Turkey for this specific purpose, to keep the dolma intact and beautiful while cooking. It looks like this:

After placing the plate, mix in the remaining water, olive oil, salt and pomegranate juice. Add the liquid mix over the dolmas. Bring to boil, cover and simmer on very low heat until cooked for around 30-40 minutes. Check with the tip of a fork if the vegies are cooked and more importantly make sure the rice filling is cooked well, a bit further than al dente. Remove from the heat, take out the plate carefully with a tea towel. Remove any excess liquid. Put the lid back on and let the pot sit on the kitchen counter overnight. Serve the next day at the room temperature. Add more pomegranate syrup if desired.

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33 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I want your Dolma Stone!!!! I cannot find one anywhere. Do you have any idea where I might? I was in Istanbul last November and took a Turkish cooking class there. I am making dolma all over the place, but weighting them down with plates is an imperfect process and takes up precious room.

    By the by…..LOVE your blog!!!

    • Lara, 🙂 I bought mine from Kahramanmaras, but I’m sure we can find it in Istanbul. I’ll let you know as soon as I find one. I use the stone only for the dried variety, for other dolmas it’s a tad too heavy!

  2. Elif Akyol,

    I am intrigqed with the picture of the “dolma stone” pictured on your Zeytinyagli Kuru Dolma – Stuffed Sun Dried Vegetables In Olive Oil page.

    Please send me the measurements of this wonderful cooking tool.
    I would like the diameter AND the thickness of the flat part. The diameter AND the heigth of the handle. Are all dolma stones the same size?

    What material is the “stone” made from?

    I want to try to make one using my ceramic materials. My ceramic studio is located in Saint Petersburg, Florida, USA.

    I appreciate your help with this project.

    Andy Sheppard

    • Hi Andy, thanks for the nice comment. I love my dolma stone, it’s quite versatile too, when cooking on low heat for long time you can put it on the lid to help keep the steam -thus flavors- in the pot and facilitate even distribution of heat. There are various sizes of dolma stone to fit different pots. Those are quite heavy. Here’s my stone’s measurements:
      -Dia: 22cm, Height: 1.5cm,
      -Handle height: 2.5cm, width: 4cm(at the top) narrows down and measures 2.5cm at the point it attaches to the disc. There are six 1.5cm holes including the one inside the handle.
      The material: it’s made of clay, sorry I don’t know the type I’m not an expert, I think made on a potter’s wheel.
      Hope this helps. Cheers

    • Oh and it weighs 1.2kg incase you needed that info too.

  3. Elif Akyol,

    Embarrassed to ask, but am I communication with a woman or a man?
    Really does not matter but being such a great chef is a marvelous achievement either way.

    I am so pleased with the measurements you sent to me. Thank you very, very much. I am still so amazed that I can reach across the globe so easily.

    You mentioned different sized stones to fit different pans. How many different sizes do you think are actually made? What sizes would these be. Are they made as a custom order to fit “your” individual pan?

    And a really big question. What is the retail price for these Dolma Stones there in Turkey?

    Thanks from across the world,

    Andy Sheppard

    • 🙂 Thanks a lot. I’m a woman, Elif is a very common female name here in Turkey, you have heard of author Elif Safak, maybe?

      Our world is one funny little place!

      As for the stone, I don’t think there is a standard system for sizes. Dolma is usually made in larger quantities at dinner parties or special occasions or simply for larger families, so bigger pots are used in Turkey. Also it’s better to cook dolma-sarma(stuffed vine leaves) in fewer layers in wider cooking ware to prevent uneven cooking. I suppose, 20-35cm diameter is the most preferred range for domestic use. Yes, they can be custom made for individual pans as they are almost always hand made. Stones retail for around USD4-10. By the way, dolma stones are more common in inner and southern Anatolian cities compared to bigger cities like Istanbul. I bought mine from a potter in eastern mediterranean city, Kahramanmaras, it wasn’t custom made, it was the medium size there.

      You’re very much welcome :). I’d be happy to hear more about your project as it progresses.
      Good luck!

  4. Hi Elif!

    Such good info crossing between you and Andy. I’ve come to the conclusion that………..I NEED A BIGGER POT!!!! I don’t think my pot will accommodate everything and still get the lid on. Reading your specs is giving me a better idea of what kind of pot to look for. May I ask: How deep is your pot and how much clearance is there between the top of the stone and your lid?

    You said that the stone was used primarily for your dried variety dolma, that it was too heavy for the fresh made dolma. Would a lighter stone be desireable? What do you use instead? Plates?

    I love Elif Safak! I have read her Bastard of Istanbul and am reading 40 Rules of Love, both in English. My Turkish is not yet good enough to read anything more advanced than children’s books…. and those are still a challenge……..
    çok teşekkür ederim


    • Btw, I’m reading 40 rules of love too! I also read ‘Mahrem'(‘the Gaze’ if not wrong) and ‘Pinhan’. I like her writing style OK, but what intrigues me more is her sources of inspiration; history, sufizm…etc. She may not be the best writer but a very smart one to work on combining postmodern age issues with her cultural upbringing/ heritage.

  5. PS….can I use pomegranate molasses in place of pomegranate syrup in the Zeytinyagli Kuru Dolma recipe?



    • Molasses might taste a bit..ummm..sharp. You can replace syrup with pomegranate juice and reduce the amount of water accordingly.

      • Elif, Lara, and Patricia,

        WOW! What have I started here? All I did was ask Elif about the Dolma Tasi she has pictured on this site. Some subjects, like cooking food, really get people excited. Great!

        But I have missed out on ALL of the conversations.

        I have never gotten ANY of these posts emailed to me. I DID PREVIOUSLY CHECK THE 2 NOTIFICATION BOXES BELOW. Patricia, in Spain notified me that my email address is messed up on this site. A few letters are out of order. She guessed at what it should be and was able to contact me. “THANKS PATRICIA.”

        My correct email address is patyoungceramicarts@hotmail.com Elif can you make sure I entered it correctly when I registered on your site? I sure do not want to miss any more good information.

        Because of all of your help I believe I will be providing all of North America with Dolma Stones. Sounds kind of egotistical doesn’t it? But I am very excited about this project.

        Thanks to all of you,

        Andy Sheppard

        • Sounds great Andy, not egoistic at all!! 🙂 We definitely have a passion for food, that’s the reason for this blog, but other things have come up along the comments section as well, which is totally awesome by me. God bless the dolma stone! 🙂
          I checked your email address, it’s registered correctly.

          • Right after my previous post I deleted and retyped my email address in my “details box”. I just received my FIRST copy of these posts. Thanks for providing such a wonderful place for us to discus “stuff”.

            I want to use your quote “God bless the Dolma Stone” in my marketing campaign, when ever I start one.

            I just noticed I have to check the notification boxes EVERY time I write a post. I thought one time would be for all time.

            Andy Sheppard

  6. Hey all!

    Elif, have you used your stone for anything besides dolma? I’m thinking it could be a useful tool for terrines, pates, sandwiches, and maybe tortes. What do you think?


    • Hi Lara,
      For warm sandwiches yes I did and it works fine, I use it for almost all slow-cooking tasks, also works great as a weight on the lid when braising vegies in olive oil, I always cook olive oil dishes in steelware, I don’t know why but it gives the best results.

  7. Elif,

    A very good question has come up. Since almost every Dolma Stone’s handle has a hole in its’ center, Does the hole extend through the stone’s body to allow steam to escape up through the handle. OR is the hole only in the handle’s body and by being there act as a radiator to keep the handle cool?

    No one ever takes a picture of the bottom of a Dolma Stone.

    William A. Sheppard V.

    3rd Generation Owner/Artist of Pat Young Ceramic Arts
    Studio Celebrated 50 Years in 2004
    6-S-2-U & ME

    • Hi Andy,
      The steam/hole goes right through the handle and the body. There is not much of a point in trying to keep the handle cool as most of the time the stone will be utilized inside the pot. You can see the holes in the pictures on the websites links of which I provided you with.
      How’s the project going? Hope all is well.

      • Elif and Lara,

        Thanks. Why did I think I had to see the bottom of the stone? I will be putting a hole in mine handles.

        Lara got a new pot and wants me to make her a 13 inch diameter Dolma Stone. WOW that’s a big one for my first go at it.

        I have built patterns for 8′, 10′, 12′, and 14′ stones. Will keep you posted on my progress.


  8. Merhaba Elif!

    It’s been awhile but I wanted to share with you the results of the conversation we had in this area of your blog Andy and I would like to thank you so much for your input that helped us to create the first (to our knowledge) American made Dolma Stone (Tasi):


    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Hope all is wonderful in your world…


    • Merhaba Lara, and Andy,

      Everything’s just fine, thanks. Your stone is beautiful, good luck with your dolma adventures. Great job Andy! The stone looks so smooth and perfect. The additional aesthetic element of grapevine leaf decorations on the stone is very nice and I’m sure it’ll inspire stone makers back here :),it’s such a small world afterall!

      With love from Istanbul…

      • Hello Elif Akyol,

        As Lara told you I made a Dolma Tasi just for her to fit into her new 14 inch wide cooking pot. She picked the color to match some of her dinnerware.

        Well this project has become a living thing with us. We are discussing establishing marketing, production, financing, and distribution ideas.

        Lara is supposed to be making a huge pot of Dolmas for her 4th of July celebration in California. I am anxious to see how her new pot and Dolma Stone work together.

        To see pictures of my progress as I made the 4 sizes of prototype Dolma Stones go to this web page.

        http://www.custommade.com/custom/dolma-stone/40523 .

        I wish I could post pictures of the prototype stones on your web site for everybody to see.

        Thanks for your help, kind words and advice.

        Andy Sheppard

  9. Elif,

    I have now jumped into my American Style Dolma Stone project with “both feet”.

    I have launched a KickStarter.com project to tell the world all about my new product. Go to this URL.


    Elif, I really need your help getting this message out to as many people as you can.

    Please let me know if you CAN or can not give me a little assistance.

    Andy Sheppard

    • Hi Andy!
      Great to hear that you’re working on your dolma stone! What else can I do for you other than announcing your product on my weblog?
      Good luck!

      • Elif,

        Thanks for writing back to me about my American Style Dolma Stone project. You are up early.

        An announcement on your blog would be so generous of you, Thanks. About how many readers do you have?

        Be sure to mention this KickStarter project URL:


        Also be sure to give yourself credit for helping me with my early Dolma Stone research.

        Did you notice I used a picture from your Blog in my project pages, AND Of COURSE I gave you credit for the picture?

        If you are able to do this for me let me know when it is published.

        Sincerely grateful to you.

        Returning your love from Florida,

        Andy Sheppard
        Owner / Artist of Pat Young Ceramic Arts
        Studio established in 1954

    • I just read your post on kickstarter. Thanks for mentioning my website too. I’ll write about your dolma stone on my personal twitter account, if you like. I have a couple of famous Turkish journalist/reporters and American/European Turkish-food enthusiasts among my followers, they might be interested. What do you think?

  10. Elif,

    That would be fantastic!!! Would that be in addition to your blog pages?

    I do not have access to Twitter, or Facebook or any of the social media things. How will I be able to read what you write and the responses you get?

    I am celebrating my 65th birthday this next week. That could be why I never got socially media savvy. I have a hard time keeping up with all the other stuff I am trying to do.

    Did you read my full bio section on the KickStarter page? You have to click on the “Full Bio” blue type just under my picture in the upper right hand corner of the page to get to it.

    Thanks again,


    • I’ll do the blog post as well as twitter. Twitter won’t take much time, just a couple of sentences and links, but I don’t wanna do it now so early in the morning on a weekend, “prime time” on a weekday is better. Regarding the outcome, I’ll keep you updated via email, by sending you links to and screenshots of the interactions, alright?

      Yes, I read your bio, I always admire people who are passionate about what they do and put continuous effort into improving themselves no matter how far they progress. Kudos to you!

      Happy Birthday by the way :), don’t worry about the social media, you’re not missing out on so much, you’re already making great use of the internet as far as I can see. My mom is almost 60 and she is unbelievably active on social media, she gets 150+ ‘like’s in ten minutes as soon as she puts up a new photo on facebook! 🙂

      Anyways… Good luck with taking the project further and keep up the good work!
      Love from Istanbul

  11. Elif,

    Did you get any response to your Twittering and Blog Posting about My American Style Dolma Stone project?


    Sure could use some traffic to this web site.

    As always, a friend of yours,

    Andy Sheppard

    • Hi Andy 🙂

      I sent you an email regarding the tweets and feedback, via the address you provided here.


      • Elif,

        Oh my gosh, I forgot all about that Turkish 4 day holiday festival. Of course you were right to delay the communications.

        You and Izzet sure do make a very distinguished looking couple. Please thank him for me because he was so kind to re-tweet and especially in your native language. I wonder if I will get any messages I will not be able to read.

        Thanks so much for your kindness. I will let you know if I get any results.

        Cheers and many more cheers,

        Andy Sheppard

  12. world is changing

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