Preparation time: 60 minutes, plus cooling

Cooking time: 20 minutes, plus cooling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 pickling onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 125g short grain rice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 50g currants
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 250ml water
  • 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
  • small handful fresh mint, finely chopped
  • small handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 25-30 preserved vine leaves, rinsed and drained
  • ready-made tzatziki, to serve

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, then fry the pickling onions and garlic until soft.

Add the rice, cumin, currants, pine nuts and lemon juice and fry for one minute. Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

Add the water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Add the spring onion, mint and parsley and mix together well. 

Place the vine leaves with the shiny side down onto a clean work surface. Place two teaspoons of the filling mixture onto each leaf, then roll up into a tightly-sealed parcel, tucking the ends in to seal.

Place the dolmades into the fridge to chill. (If preferred, you can serve the dolmades warm, by steaming them for 1–2 minutes before serving.)

To serve, arrange the dolmades on a large serving plate with a bowl of tzatziki placed in the middle for dipping.

How to Wrap a Dolmade

  • Place the vine leaf shiny side down. 
  • At the bottom of the leaf—the hard stem—cut out a triangle shape with the tip facing up. (If the leaf isn’t tough, there is no need to cut the triangle.)
  • Add 2 tsp of filling in the centre of the leaf.
  • Fold the bottom half of the leaf towards the centre, then fold the top half of leaf towards the centre to form an envelope.
  • Then fold from the left, 1cm in towards the centre, and roll the leaf over the filling to complete.

Enjoy this recipe with one of South Africa’s best wines, go to

Recipes by Diane Heierli • Photography C&D Heierli