Grape leaves stuffed with bulgur and chick-peas

June 10, 2010  •  Category:


Back in my hometown!

Traffic  as crazy as ever;  crossing the streets  an exercise in bravery, due diligence and plain unconsciousness ; one is not even safe on the sidewalk since scooters even hop on at their convenience and when you thought you had (narrowly) escaped sudden and painful death you find yourself in a head-on near- collision with a (charming) pizza delivery man whizzing by.

NOTE: If you wish to make grape leaves, I strongly urge you to get fresh ones (right now they are available at middle-eastern stores); if you persist in using canned ones, don’t complain to me about the fact that they turned out stringy and rubbery. You can use swiss chard leaves; for the recipe, click here


  • 1/2 pound of grape leaves or swiss chard leaves
  • 1 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 very large onion, chopped fine
  • 1 cup of coarse bulgur #4 or #3
  • 2 cups of cooked chick peas
  • 1 bunch of parsley, leaves chopped fine
  • 3 Large tomatoes, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1/2 bunch of chopped mint leaves (or a few tablespoons of dried ones)
  • 2 Tablespoons of hot red Aleppo pepper (optional) or hot pepper paste
  • salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 potatoes (to line the pot, optional)


  1. Prepare the grape leaves by throwing them in a lot of boiling water for a couple of minutes, then draining them and setting them aside.
  2. Pour some hot water over the bulgur and let the grains swell up while you prepare the rest of the stuffing ingredients.
  3. Place all the stuffing ingredients in a bowl, season and add the drained bulgur. Moisten with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, leaving the rest to go into the pot while the leaves are cooking.
  4. Start wrapping the leaves; play some music, if you like, because it will take about 45 minutes.
  5. Cut the potatoes in 1/2 inch slices and line the pan with them; this is extra insurance, to avoid burning the leaves, but it is not absolutely necessary. You can also use tomatoes to line the pot.

To cook the leaves:

  1. After lining the pot (or not), place the little bundles tightly side-by-side; cover the leaves with a small plate snugly; add water halfway up the pot and pour the lemon juice and olive oil and a dash of salt on top of the leaves. Cover the pot and bring to a slow simmer; simmer for one hour or a bit longer, until the leaves are fully cooked. Cool.
  2. To serve, flip the pot onto a serving platter and serve at room temperature.


80 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. peter says:

    Welcome home, comforting chaos and all! I pick and jar my own leaves…never will buy the jarred variety again!

    Must try adding some chickpeas in the mix next time.

  2. Faith says:

    You must be so excited to be back in your hometown! Your tip on using fresh grape leaves is so true! Canned just aren’t the same. Yours look absolutely perfect!

  3. Coconut Raita says:

    These look fantastic. Assuming I can find the fresh vine leaves I’ll give these a go this weekend. Take care. Reena

  4. SYLVIA says:

    You’re sending us the grape leaves from Beirut to our table at no time, this is a sure party pleaser even healthier with bulgur and chick peas, my girl friend adds walnuts in hers for an extra crunch. this is a great way to get the veggies and starch all in one dish.

  5. SYLVIA says:

    Joumana, you traveled thousands of miles to visit your ancestral homeland to your awaiting family,I enjoy the warm atmosphere and the reception with your family and friends.

  6. Karolina says:

    I love stuffed leaves but I have to admin that I buy them on a market if only this Greek merchant comes. 🙂 Never tried to make my own, I think mostly due to the lack of wine leaves. Beautiful Joumana! Have a great time back home.

  7. A Canadian Foodie says:

    Welcome HOME!
    I have NEVER had fresh leaves… use the brined ones all of the time… and actually love the flavour of them in Greek Dolmades (probably because I don’t know any better). I am going to Bosna this summer and Vanja’s mom grows grapes there. Have you ever picked your own? Do I just pick the smaller ones, or the bigger ones? I would LOVE to try the fresh leaves when I get there. Every single one of your recipes makes me want to stop in my tracks for the day – go and get the ingredients – and make the dish. I am beginning to wonder if I will live long enough.:) I will sure enjoy trying!
    I have no idea what KIND of grapes she has. Does it matter?
    How long are you home for? How long have you been away? Yes, I am snoopy! You are such an international gal…
    Take us on some market tours!

    • Joumana says:

      I love your questions and suggestions: I am going to the farmers’ market this Saturday; will show you what foodies in Beirut eat!
      Also, we have wild and planted grape leaves in our mountain home and use the fresh ones always; there is a difference of night and day between fresh and canned; the fresh ones should be picked when young and tender and small; they will in turn when cooked (blanched first of course) literally melt in your mouth! Swiss chard leaves are used in Lebanon in lieu of grapes when the grapes are too old and toughl they also will melt in your mouth so they are a great alternative that I use all the time. I would love to hear from you in Bosnia how your grape leaves (and the rest of the trip) turns out and how the Bosnians use their grape leaves. In the mountain, they also make verjuice with the juice of sour grapes, to use in salad dressing.
      I will be in Beirut for a few weeks and then we are escaping into the mountain home and welcoming a slew of visitors from Europe, all relatives.
      I may stay in Lebanon for a few months; my plans are flexible. I will keep you posted! XOX Joumana

  8. Alina says:

    Wow I never realized there was a vegetarian version of what I know as Dolma (how is it called in your language?)!! Those grape leaves always look so appetizing, but I don’t eat meat. The next step is to find grape leaves in Riga, hehe. BTW thank you for your tip on food shopping online, somehow I’ve never tried this before… I plan to look out for some shredded phyllo online!

  9. gourmandelise says:

    J’aime beaucoup les feuilles de vigne farcies!
    Les tiennes doivent etre très savoureuses!

  10. Christine's Recipes says:

    I love the foods that wrapped in leaves, that smell fragrant. Using the fresh ones is the best.

  11. Katerina says:

    Dolmades as we call them in Greece are my favorite, especially during summer. I like them with rice and herbs. We make them also with ground meat and rice. This is another version that is definitely worth testing. I ‘ll put it in my recipes. Have a nice time in your homeland.

  12. Rosa says:

    That filling is wonderful! Two of my favorite ingredients.



  13. Sushma Mallya says:

    very different recipe but looks good

  14. FOODESSA says:

    Joumana…you’re on vacation and you’re still feeding us!!!
    Don’t you take a break ever?
    Great recipe and looking forward to all the great photos and experiences you’ll be sharing with us.
    Try to get some great vacation moments not to burn yourself out ;o)
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  15. oum mouncifrayan says:

    always fascinated by this recipe, but never had the occasion to test it!!!!
    j’ose pas cuire ou manger des feuilles…lol
    merci pour le partage! et bonnes vacances à Beirut!
    bisous, enjooooooy

  16. Nadji says:

    Délicieux. J’ai eu la chance de manger des feuilles de vigne “fraiches”.
    A bientôt.

  17. Doc says:

    Love it-Thanks for the subing swiss chard option! Be safe over there and have FUN!

  18. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    I will have to try these with swiss chard leaves. There’s no middle eastern store in my little town! But lots of swiss chard. Tell us more about your journey!

  19. Angie's Recipes says:

    I wish I could just grab a few of these wrap off the screen…yummy filling!

  20. eleni says:

    What an excellent dish… we stuff grape leaves in Greece too and generally I make them with bulgur and some other grains as well, BUT the addition of chickpeas is two thumbs up!! Well done… I wished I had one now…

  21. Cooking with Kait says:

    I love stuffed grape leaves and this one sounds terrific with chick-peas. Great step by step photos of folding the grape leaves.

  22. Suman Singh says:

    This dish is new to me…looks fantastic..thanks for sharing this with us!

  23. Rachana says:

    These stuffed grape leaves look so appealing! I love it!

  24. Tammy says:

    Loved the movement-saturated “snapshot” you gave us of a Beirut street, and remembering that wonderful feeling of being home again, and yet startled. Makes me dream.

    I have grapes just outside my front door, never bothered to use the leaves. Hmm. I may be missing out on something…

  25. June says:

    My father in law is leaving town and his grapes for a month – I wonder if he’s going to notice his “bald” grapes when he gets back. Ha. I’ll be making these while he’s gone – they look delicious!

  26. Lazaro says:

    What a gorgeous dish all the way around. Great flavors and lovely presentation.

    They look like little cigars of goodness.


  27. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    Be careful! Don’t be too busy daydreaming about grape leaves to look where you’re going 😉

    Great recipe, especially with the chick peas.

  28. Sylva says:

    I love the meatless version of grape leaves stuffing. We also add Tahini sauce with lemon and garlic when serving. Have fun in Beirut!!!

  29. sophia says:

    Oh so canned leaves are a no-go? Darn…they are so much easier to find! I guess I’ll just have to invite myself over to your kitchen! 😉

  30. citronetvanille says:

    Salut Joumana, je me demandais justement si tu étais bien arrivée…Oh je t’envie d’être partie loin, je ne connais pas le Liban, j’ai pas mal d’amis libanais parcontre. Quelle chance tu as, je veux voir les photos des marchés stp! Alors ces feuilles de vignes, je ne les ai jamais vu fraîches, toujours en bocal. Tu sais, à SF, on a beaucoup de magasins et épiceries asiatiques et mexicaines, Indiennes à Berkeley mais pas du tout orientales, c’est bien dommage! Même chez mon épicier Grec, pas de feuilles de vignes fraîches, la prochaine fois que je me trouve a Napa, je vais m’arrêter sur le bord de la route pour “voler” quelques feuilles des vignes. Superbe recette végétarienne, j’adore l’idée de la farce aux pois chiches et du boulghour, enfin ca fait bien rêver tout ca…passe de superbes vacances et je veux voir plein de photos!

  31. grace says:

    delightful filling, joumana! i’ve never worked with grape leaves, but i’ll be sure to take your advice and steer clear of the canned ones. 🙂

  32. Amber @Almost Vegan says:

    LOVE that last pic! Mouthwatering!

  33. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Those look and sound delightful! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures!

  34. spice says:

    Hi Joumana, hope u r having good time in your fav. city….so is this just a trip or u have finally moved(if i’m not wrong few months back u were talking about moving back to beirut)……thanks for sharing another wonderful recipe….love that platter…

  35. Krista says:

    Welcome home, Joumana! Glad you made it safe and sound. 🙂 I LOVE these delicious little bundles. 🙂 I don’t have grape leaves but I DO have swiss chard. I’m so glad you noted that I could use those instead. 🙂

  36. Magic of Spice says:

    My favorite snack:) These look just outstanding. I must save this as I have eaten a plenty, but never prepared for myself. Wonderful!

  37. Mimi says:

    I’m glad you arrived safely. Enjoy the your time with family. The stuffed grape leaves looks delicious.

  38. Lea Ann says:

    I had these once, years ago and they were just awful. Prepared by someone who had no idea what they were doing….bland…mushy…and I know for sure odd flavored canned leaves. Thanks for reminding me with these beautiful photos that I need to give it another chance! Looks so yummy!

  39. Amber @Almost Vegan says:

    By the way, guess what? We just got our first Lebanese restaurant in Kansas City!

  40. Anh says:

    This is such a great recipe! I will try it out for sure! 🙂

  41. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    These are a great idea! I like the idea of using bulghur. when I buy a bag I find that it takes a while to use it all up on tabouli so this is a nice idea!

  42. Lentil Breakdown says:

    Wow, you only missed one day of blogging! You are a BLOGGING DYNAMO! And I have to tell you, I am so excited by this recipe with the chard leaves. I’ve never heard of using chard. And the filling looks right up my alley. In the Turkish cooking class I took in Istanbul, we used lamb, and I’m not a fan of lamb. But I learned how to make them. (I did a blog post using the pics from my class: I also make stuffed cabbage and have adapted the beef version to a vegetable one using rice and legumes. Thanks for the chard inspiration. I eat it often, but never thought of using it for grape leaves!

  43. 5 Star Foodie says:

    These sound scrumptious! I love the filling with bulgur and chickpeas!

  44. Fig and Cherry says:

    Immediately bookmarked this recipe! I am so addicted to your blog 🙂

    I might be a bit late with this… but LOVE your new profile pic, so stylish.

  45. Sook says:

    Oh I love those leaves!! I used to eat them a lot back in Korea! It is so hard to find them here in CA. I haven’t seen them anywhere. This recipe looks so good.

  46. recettes gourmandes says:

    magnifique recette joumana,moi qui n’a encore jamais gouté la feuille de vigne, je rate des choses, merci pour la recette,gros bisou ma belle.

  47. MaryMoh says:

    Welcome back home! I have only eaten these type of wraps once, prepared by an Egyptian friend….very delicious. Your look healthy and delicious.

  48. Cherine says:

    Your post made me laugh… welcome to lebanon hehe )
    Your grape leaves look perfect, love the stuffing!!
    Enjoy your vacation 🙂

  49. tigerfish says:

    Yes…you are fast in cooking action even on vacation. 🙂 ….I have not tried stuffed grape leaves before though I have seen them appearing in blogs once in a while. Now….where do I get these leaves…?

    • Joumana says:

      @tigerfish: you can find grape leaves in middle-eastern stores (or Greek stores) or pluck them from a vine. OR, you can use swiss chard leaves, which will give you the same results, meltingly tender.

  50. Pauline says:

    Thanks for this recipe and for the tips on which grape leaves to choose. I have a vine right outside my door too but when I’ve made dolmades in the past I picked big leaves and of course they were stringy and tough. I didn’t know you could make them with meat ; in France they always seem to be veggie: rice, herbs and lemon rind usually. But I love chickpeas so will be trying this version very soon.

  51. T.W. Barritt says:

    You’re in Beirut! I’ve always wondered about making stuffed grape leaves. Good to know that you can use Swiss chard leaves, as I expect I’ll have a lot of those!

  52. kristy says:

    I’ve seen them making these with grape leaves! Is this some kind of festive food or summer recipe? Eventhough I’ve never tried this before, I still get the point why you need fresh and young leaves for this recipe. Our local Malay loves to eat cassava & sweet potato leaves. They only used the young ones. And it tasted really good and helps to lower down the high blood pressure too! Hope you’re having a fantastic time back home. Enjoy & have lots of fun!
    Blessings, Kristy

  53. Mallika says:

    Oh wow! This is something new that I am seeing. Nice to see something as different as this one. Nice recipe. 🙂

  54. sweffling says:

    Had no idea you could use swiss chard leaves: thanks so much for wonderful recipes and giving us a taste of your childhood culture. I love your blog:)

  55. Antonella says:

    I think it could be perfect for Mediterranea page! It permits a link to bulgur too and it’s directly from Beirut …
    What about it?
    Ciao and have a lot of fun! Antonella

  56. Sommer says:

    I adore stuffed grape leaves! Thanks for the tip on using swiss chard–I can NEVER find fresh grape leaves here!

  57. Erica says:

    This is just like my favorite kind of food.So beautiful! Enjoy your hometown 🙂

  58. Mary says:

    Those are quite possibly the best looking stuffed grape leaves I’ve ever seen. The filling sounds delicious as well. I hope you are enjoying your visit. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  59. Heavenly Housewife says:

    I love stuffed grape leaves, though I have never made them. This is the type of thing I’d really like to try.
    HOpe you have a wonderful weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  60. Ivy says:

    Hey you’re in Beirut? Have a wonderful time. I’ve never used canned ones and always buy lots of fresh ones around April, wash and fold them in cling film and put them in the deep freezer. Last week I used a batch I had since 2005 (yes 2005) and they were still perfect. I am sure you know how to preserve them but here is the link in case someone else wants to do this

    Great recipe. Never thought of making dolmades with chickpeas but have bookmarked them and surely will try them.

  61. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    Loved stuffed leaves and glad now to know how to make them. Enjoy the trip. Yeah your description of walking around reminds me of my trip to Italy!

  62. Bonnie353@sbcglobal. says:

    My brother-in-law is from Beirut. He and one of his daughters were recently there for a two week visit. My niece loved her time there with her dad. She was thrilled with the country, the people and the food. My blog today features her sister and little niece. I love it when my brother in law cooks for me. Delicious!

    Enjoy your visit.


  63. Katie@Cozydelicious says:

    SO excited that you have arrived! I hope you having the most fantastic time. Question on fresh grape leaves. This may sound very silly to one who actually knows anything about grape leaves but… my parents have a TON of concord grapes growing in theor yard. Are the leaves on those vines useable for this recipe?

    • Joumana says:

      I am sure the leaves are fine to use; what is best is to pick the most tender and young and small leaves; the large ones will be tough. Another option and a very good one is to use swiss chard leaves; cut out the thick veins and blanch them for a few minutes in boiling water, cool then cut in squares and stuff like grape leaves.

  64. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    Oh wow, I love your take on stuffed grape leaves. I might just have to go and make some. Enjoy Beirut! Hugs!

  65. Sarah says:

    I love making stuffed grape leaves but I have never tried it with bulgur and chickpeas. My usual recipe is vegetarian with lots of dill and green onions. Your recipe looks delicious

  66. Food Jihadist says:

    Chickpeas in vine wraps. Awesome! A truly beautiful recipe.

  67. TastyTrix says:

    I would never complain to you, esp if I did not follow your excellent directions! I would love to visit Beirut someday … but for now, I will live vicariously through you!

  68. sandhya says:

    your post are so evocative that I feel like I am imbibing the taste of lebanon everytime I visit your site. I admire your dedication to your ciusine, your passion comes through so clearly and you are a great teacher.

  69. OysterCulture says:

    I’ve not yet tried to stuff grape leaves myself, mainly because I have good access to some tasty treats, but this recipe convinces me I should definitely give it a go.

  70. Margaret says:

    Wondered how these were made. Thanks fo the lesson. I found a place to obtain grape leaves, so I can do these.

  71. Stacey Snacks says:

    I love dolmas, and these grape leaves stuffed w/ chickpeas and bulgur look amazing!
    I have only had the Greek version.
    I want you to cook for me someday, please!
    I love all of your specialties……..

  72. Rajani says:

    stuffed grape leaves is something i have yet not developed a taste for, but this stuffing is very tempting.

  73. Sanura says:

    Thanks for providing this recipe. I haven’t looked for fresh grape leaves, but the idea of using swiss chard will save the searching time. Stuffed Grape Leaves are popular in our house, for each restaurant makes them differently. This is a great initiation recipe.

  74. Sarah says:

    I made these and they are delicious!!! My dad is from Beirut and he was floored by how much they reminded him of back home. Also, my fiance always had a problem eating stuffed grape leaves and I always told him it was because he had only tried the canned kind. Now he is hooked and asks for them all of the time. Very wonderful recipe, thank you for sharing!

  75. Zahrah says:

    It is really very tasty
    I am so glad to see many meals of Arabic food

  76. Mary says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe. Looks delicious! My hubby’s grandmom from Beirut also used to use an old plate to hold the grape leaves down, but now they are finding out that these vintage plates contain high levels of lead and other toxins. Might be a good idea to use a stainless steel lid or something. Anyway, I’m definitely going to make these. Thank you for sharing. <3

    • Joumana Accad says:

      @Mary Actually Mary, I have noticed that people now use a special tool to hold the grape leaves or other stuffed veggies together; it is made with clay and fired and is a heavy round implement and is sold in all the craft shops. I will look and see if I have a picture of it to post. I did buy one at the time.

Add a Comment