Millet Stuffed Egyptian Vine Leaves

In one of my Vegan MoFo posts way back in October, I introduced you to the wonder that is Mahshi Kousa . I initially had every intention of following up that recipe with a healthy take on vine leaves, but October came and went and the package of vine leaves remained neglected in my cupboard for weeks on end. Until this week, that is. When I caught sight of it underneath a half-full bag of millet, inspiration struck.

Stuffed vine leaves or wara’ enab, as they’re called in Arabic, is pretty much a trademark Mediterranean dish. You’re bound to find them on the menu if you visit any Turkish, Greek or Lebanese restaurant – but as with all regional dishes, each culture makes it a little differently. In the Levant, vine leaves are usually (but not always) stuffed with a rice and meat mixture, and served as a cold appetiser.

In Egypt however, mahshi wara’ enab (that’s stuffed vine leaves to you), is served hot as part of a main meal. The individual rolls are also much smaller in comparison to the Lebanese and Turkish varieties which are hardly bite-sized. It’s also traditionally vegan, made without the addition of meat.

It’s also, delicious.

 

 

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Now, it’s taken me years of training (I kid you not), but I have finally mastered the art of rolling stuffed vine leaves. I may not be able to roll 10 a minute from the palm of my hand like a certain mother I know, but I’m not too shabby. I realise it may not be as difficult as I’m making it out to be – it’s pretty much like rolling a wrap just a lot smaller.

 

 

In any case, here’s a step-by-step to rolling the perfect vine leaves.

 


Now, a few recipe notes:

  • If millet isn’t your thing you could make this using quinoa or short-grain brown rice. The latter will probably be more authentic tasting and just as nutritious.
  • If you do decide to use brown rice, soak it in warm water for a couple of hours beforehand – this will help it cook a little quicker.
  • If your vine leaves come in a package or jar in brine, they will probably be super salty, soak in hot water for 10 minutes prior to rolling to avoid the entire dish being a salty mess.
  • Don’t worry if you have vine leaves or stuffing left over, both will freeze well. If you only have stuffing left over, use it to fill a small red or green bell pepper and cook with the vine leaves like I did here.stuffed-vine-leaves-2stuffed-vine-leaves-1

Initially I wasn’t sure about using millet, but it fluffs up perfectly and works surprisingly well in place of the traditional white rice. It’s also high in protein, b-complex vitamins and minerals – all the makings of a top notch whole grain in my book.
(Ps. Sorry for the picture heavy post. Who knew vine leaves would photograph so well? :) )

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