This is probably the most popular dish prepared in Azerbaijan in summer. When vegetables and fruits are in abundance, Azerbaijani women like to stuff them:) They stuff eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, quince and even apples! The general name for all the stuffed yummies is Dolma, which means stuffed in Azeri. Dolma of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes is everybody’s favorite and I don’t know anyone in Azerbaijan who doesn’t like it!
Usually the three vegetables are cooked at the same time in the same pan. The stuffing is delicious on its own and I’ll admit I usually make extra and secretly eat it with a chunk of fresh bread and let the rest stuff the vegetables:) In my family we sometimes add split peas to the filling and I like it a lot, but it is only a matter of taste and is therefore optional. Also, eggplant shells are prepared in various ways before they are stuffed. Some blanch them in boiling water, some fry, some make a slit alongside the vegetable, some simply cut off the hat, scoop out the flesh and fill up the cavity with the stuffing.
Without much ado, here’s the recipe, step by step. It was part of my summer menu published in the Arab Times last week. Enjoy!
Stuffed Eggplants, Peppers and Tomatoes (Badimjan, Biber ve Pomidor Dolmasi)
Update – July 11, 2011 – I corrected yellow split peas to split chickpeas. Sorry for the confusion. The two are different things. Use chickpeas, not split peas. Cook the chickpeas, then slide their skins off and split with your fingers. Split chickpeas are called lepe in Azerbaijan.
Serves 4 to 6
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil or clarified butter
For the Shells:
6 small black skinned eggplants (about 12 cm long and 4 cm in diameter)
6 medium green bell peppers
6 large firm tomatoes
ground black pepper
For the Stuffing:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil or clarified butter
1 1/2 pounds (700 g) ground beef or lamb
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium green pepper (pointed or bell), finely chopped
chopped tomato pulp* (see the recipe)
1 cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup cooked and split chickpeas (1/4 cup dried, boiled in slightly salted water and drained), optional
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
1. Prepare the shells.
Eggplants: There are two ways to prepare the eggplant shells. Choose one you like better.
Method 1: This is the easier method and takes less time than the second. Cut off the stalk end of the eggplants. Make a lengthways slit in each taking care not to cut right through. Fill a pan with water and bring to a boil. Gently drop the eggplants into the boiling water, and simmer for about 2 minutes, using a slotted spoon to keep them submerged. Remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove the seeds from the eggplants with a spoon or by rubbing the eggplants gently between the palms of your hands to let the seeds fall out. Set aside.
Method 2: My favorite method, although requires more time and effort to prepare. Here instead of blanching the eggplants fry them before stuffing. Using a vegetable peeler or knife, remove about 3-4 lengthwise strips of skin from the eggplant to create a striped effect. Make a lengthways slit in each eggplant taking care not to cut too deep through. Soak the eggplants in a large bowl full of cold water with 2 tablespoons salt for 20 minutes to remove any bitterness. Drain, and gently pat dry. Fry the eggplants in 4 tablespoons oil or butter (add more if necessary) on all sides for about 10 minutes, or until evenly brown. Remove, drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
Peppers: Start cutting tops off the green peppers about 1/2 inches (4 cm) from the stems and stop when you obtain lids attached to the peppers. Remove the seeds and ribs and set aside.
Tomatoes: Remove the stems. Start cutting tops off the tomatoes about 1/2 inches (4 cm) from the stems and stop when you obtain lids attached to the tomatoes. Scoop out the pulp, finely chop it and reserve for the stuffing*.
2. Make the stuffing. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ground meat and cook until the released liquid has evaporated and the meat has nicely browned. Add the onions and cook for 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped pepper and tomato pulp and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Add the fresh herbs, and if using, cooked and split chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
3. Sprinkle inside of the shells with some salt and black pepper and fill them with the stuffing. Cover the top of the peppers and tomatoes with their lids. Place the vegetables side by site in a deep frying pan. Pour 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or clarified over the top. Cover and simmer over low to medium heat for about 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender (but not mushy!) and the liquid has reduced to the syrupy consistency.
Nush Olsun! Enjoy!
Farida, I love stuffed vegetables with or without meat and these look amazing. The stuffing sounds perfect with your choice of vegetables. Great pictures!
Those stuffed vegetables look really good. Any leftover stuffing would make a great sandwich.
Nice, I’ve always liked stuffed veggies and fruits. Those are great ideas for summer.
Stuffed vegetables are a lovely side dish..Yours sound perfect..look so colorful and pretty!!
I love stuffed summer veggies! Yours look delicious!
Summer on a plate, delightful 🙂
I like anything stuffed but often I find myself eating the stuffing and not the vessel it is stuffed in 🙂
These are most delicious looking stuffed veggies, indeed!
Yours might be the most beautiful stuffed vegetables I have ever seen!! Thanks so much for sharing!
These are totally cute! Now I have a surprise for you in my blog. 🙂
thanks for clarifyng the meaning of ‘dolma’. i thought they only referred to stuffed grape leaves.
yummy! they looked delicious.. 🙂
This is on my to-make list already!! Thanks Faride!
Stuffed peppers are one of my favourites and they a rewonderful, light meal in the summer.
OOOO..looks tres yummy! i like any kind of vegetable (especially peppers) stuffed. makes it so much more fun and exciting to eat. these look great farida. xx
It’s not often one comes across something healthy that’s so obviously delicious! And with such accessible ingredients, too 🙂 Thanks, Farida.
In my Italian-American family, we always stuffed peppers with a bread stuffing, but rarely other vegetables. Your stuffed eggplant sounds truly delicious. I also think using the small ones like you show here is a good choice. They’re more tender, aren’t they?
Farida, as you probably know, Greeks love stuffed veggies too! Though we usually use rice or bulgur along with or without ground veal, but I found your use of yellow split peas to be an interesting variation! Looks amazing! nice job on an excellent looking meal and a detailed posting. Thanks for sharing this.
Farida, that array of stuffed vegetables looks delicious.
My mom always made stuffed peppers for us kids and we loved them, and yet, I hadn’t thought of making them since I left home.
And now that I see yours , I almost want to fight you for it.
I will have one of each please! I just love stuffed things! (especially when they are filled with lamb!)
We just did a stuffed peppers dish too! Too bad ours didn’t turn out well. =(
Yum! We also stuff vegetables in Serbia. And the stuffing recipe is pretty similar to yours, we just mostly use pork, and we cook vegetables after we stuff them. My favorites are zucchini, have you tried it?
Oh, these look great! Especially the aubergine. I must try it!
I was visiting your blog… I would like to know the culture of your country! Your cookings look wonderful 🙂
Havent heard suffing meat in veggies..great combo Farida..
Looks great Farida and am sure tastes wonderful:-)
I love it! This all looks so wonderful. Great photos, great recipes – impossible to go wrong. I hope I can make this soon.
Looks great. I am making stuffed squash for dinner tonight – how is that for coincidence?!
FRIENDS, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR COMMENTS! So glad you like the recipe.
I wish I could thank you all one by one, but I am running of time (I have self imposed deadline to help me stay on track:)) and the heat is killing me:)
Hi Farida! This looks lovely. I have a lot to learn from you!
Beautiful, beautiful food. Your stuffed eggplants, in particular, are lovely. And why eat the stuffing secretly? I’d be shouting about it from the rooftops if it’s as good as it sounds…
I’ve been stuffing peppers lately, using a similar mixture which also includes rice. Since I’m trying to avoid white rice (and don’t care for brown rice), the use of split peas is a brilliant solution !
love your idea. it is really cool. i have to try this soon.
I love stuffed vegetables. There’s no better food in the summer! You’ve just inspired me to prepare some one of these days. 🙂
And, shhh.. i’ve got a secret for you. I’m giving you an award on my blog. (well you probably already have it but you can start collecting them, right?:)
Am drooooooling………….I hope you may feel like make some and send to her… 😀
Farida these are adorable! Just like little presents! I wanted to ask you something, I’ve subscribed to your blog but when you update it never shows on my reader. Do you have any idea why?
can someone pinch me I think I died and went to heaven….
Stuffed Vegetables looks so nice..I love them too..
What a lovely recipe, Farida! I don’t often think of stuffing vegetables, but they look absolutely delicious!
bizde de cok sevilen bir yemektir.Sen de cok nefis yapmissin.Ellerine saglik canim.Sevgiler
Feride ablacim, merhaba. Valla yine dokturmussun, ellerine saglik. Abla birsey sormak istiyorum. Sende falafel (nohut koftesi) tarifi var mi? I have tried many recipes I found on the internet, I tried it 3 times but all were unsuccessful and I want to get it right. I used canned chickpeas and it ends up so “wet” that I can’t shape balls. And If i add flour, then it ends up being crunchy on the outside but “doughy” inside. If you have a no-fail recipe, will you share with us lutfen 🙂 🙂 Siteni begeniyle takip ediyorum. Kucak dolusu sevgi ve selamlar yolluyorum canimcim
Thank you, friends,for your lovely comments!
I emailed those of you with burning questions in private:) Zenchef, it’s very nice of you to give me one of my favorite awards!
They look so pretty and how useful to use them as dishes too! BTW, I’ve given you an award. Check it out here!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog
Inspired by your stuffed veg, I’ve made some from my Mum’s recipe, Let me know what you think and if you have come across it before:-)
These all look really good! Love the pictures and the recipe and I’m happy I came across your blog.
YUM! I love stuffed veggies and have found that it’s a great way to make kids eat their veggies. They’ll even ask for more.
i’m a little late to this party, but i’m so glad i came! i just got a couple of eggplants and this looks like the perfect use for them. delicious!! 🙂
All these vegies look so inviting farida! a perfectly colorful and tasty platter:)
Thank you guys for your comments! Glad you enjoy the stuffied veggies:)
Chennette, welcome to my blog! Enjoy!
tempting pictures.. I am sure they are delicious..
Farida, this looks so delicious! Congrats!
yes , dear Farida…where have u seen azeri woman without “dolma” ….it came out sooo delicious..even my guests carried out all plate :)) Thank you
I’m Kurdish and my mother makes stuffed veggies like these….I love them….especially onions because they get so sweet when they are cooked and go so well with the spiced rice and meat filling! Yummy!
Hi! Thanks for the recipe. Have you ever had this with yellow tumeric (sari kyok) or purple basil (reyhan)? I’m probably spelling the Azeri wrong? I have seen this made by adding water to the pan before cooking. Do you recommend this? Thanks for the help!
WOW! Looks really good.. these are all my fav vegetables!
I love this dish. back home they stuff big onions , artichockes, peppers zucchini and small eggplants , potatoes and tomatoes . they lay them beside each other cover them with tomato sauce and bake in the oven, the aroma from all the flavours are breath taking. (the stuffing is ground meat, rice and pine nuts with spices)
I will try to make it one day and post it .
I am so happy to find your site Farida khanum,and I find many traditional azeri recipes here.I
Cox sagolun,size Allahdan ugurlar,Dinimizin ve milletimizin adi galdirin Inshallah!!!!!!!!+55555555555555555555555555555555555
We eat Dolma occasionally at home, all thanks to Ma 🙂
It looks and tastes very yummy!
I am making the stuffed eggplants for New Year. I heard that in some recipes there is a name for them, maybe Armenian, that meas “little slippers”. Do you know this word?
Happy new Year!
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MARY: You probably mean “pabucak” which to my knowledge is of Turkic origin (perhaps adopted by Armenians too), and means little slipper, you are right. Similar dish is prepared in Greece too. In pabucak, the eggplant is not slit in the “belly”, Instead, it is cut into half lengthwise, then each half is stuffed then baked. Enjoy! Happy Near to you too!
ilike it gave me more ideas for tomatoes and bell pepper to be stuffed like egg. plants. In Jordan we stuff the eggplants, tomato, sqush, potatoes and carrots with minced meat,rice, some vegitable oil salt spices 2/3 rd fill, then we put in cook pan cover it with glass plate as a heavy object then cover stuffed vegitable with boiled water mixed with tomato past to the limit of the vegitable line then cover it again with the pan cover, keep it on fire to boil then put fire down,keep boiling untill water vanish. get little cold down that you can serve. good appetite.
Aaaaa…?La ?la ?laaaaa…. Çooooox dadl? görs?nir.. Mmmm.. dadl?d????…
I had a hard time surfing the internet and lucky I stumbled upon your blog. Just what I was looking for. Thanks!
Could you write, how much water need to add in to the pan before final cooking???
ROVI – Add water if the vegies do not release much juice. Otherwise, no need for water. If you add, add only a little.
We bought in TESCO eggplants which were big and there were no seeds in.
Are they OK for Badimcan dolmasi?
ROVI – Depends on how big they are. Too big is no good.
Farida, thank you SO much for this recipe! My fiance is Azeri living in US, and he misses his food very much. I made this for him the other day and he loved it, said it tastes almost like his mom’s 🙂
In Russia we have a similar recipe, but we use sour cream with the filling. I like this so much more, it’s less fatty and tastes amazing with all the herbs.
A question about eggplants, where do you buy yours? The eggplants at my local Whole Foods are very chunky, not at all like your skinny eggplants. I had a lot of trouble preparing my eggplants.
MARIYA – You are most welcome:) Luckily I can find “skinny” eggplant in our local grocery store. It is called Japanese eggplant and looks like what we have in Azerbaijan. It is also available in ethnic stores, particularly in Arabic and Persian ones.
Thanks a lot for such a huge jobs with this blog!
We also add chopped cilantro and CINNAMON to the stuffing, the latter being obligatory for the real taste and flavor of this dish.
Thank you for your kind comment, Nilufer. Great idea with cilantro and cinnamon. Thanks.