I fell in love with Linda Mourra many years ago, when I dated her son and became best mates with her daughter, Naomi. I confess it was partly Linda’s Lebanese mama cooking, but mostly her big heart.
A couple of months back, we spent the most delicious day, as a giggle of women, making, or rather, watching Linda make our favourite Lebanese dishes and hearing about her childhood in the hills of Lebanon.
It’s taken me a while to publish this post, because the smallest member of our family managed to kill my hard drive. It’s taken a bit, but I’m so happy that I’ve been able to salvage (almost all) of the images and recipes.
Soon, I’ll be sharing the recipes for tabouli, cabbage salad, cabbage rolls and last, but definitely not least, bakalava.
Please bear with me, this series is more like a love letter to Linda’s cooking and that magical day than straight recipes. Linda learned these recipes from her mother and other women of the village and has cooked them her whole life and could make them blind-folded.
She told us how the women of her village would all come together for vine leaf rolling day to sit, drink Arabic coffee, roll, gossip and giggle.
Rolled vine leaf ingredients:
150 vine leaves (Linda blanches the ones from her grape vine and stores them in the freezer)
1 kilo white rice
2 kilos lamb mince
1 tablespoon dried mint
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ cup oil
about ½ cup ghee
1 kilo lamb chops
Boil a big pot of water (for blanching vine leaves)
Wash rice and strain.
Add the lamb,
Add dried mint and chilli powder,
Add 1 tablespoon salt and ¼ tablespoon black pepper,
Add ½ cup oil,
Add 1/3 cup ghee,
And mix well.
Sprinkle lamb chops with ½ tablespoon of white pepper and some salt.
To roll the vine leaves:
Blanch vine leaves in boiling water and separate.
Pinch a leetle, leetle bit of the meat mixture onto vine leaf.
You can get fancy and store the rolled vine leaves between the fingers and keep rolling. We decided Linda could’ve made a lot of money rolling Cuban cigars.
Stack the rolled vine leaves on top of the lamb chops.
Layer, upon layer.
And 1 tablespoon of ghee, too.
Put the proper/main pot lid on and cook on high until water boils and turn down heat a bit and cook for 2 ½ hours. Check they are cooked and keep cooking if need be. When they are ready, squeeze the juice of 3 lemons over the cooked vine leaf rolls.Tip out of the pot.Serve with the lamb chops (and some tabouli – recipe coming up next).