Dolma (Stuffed eggplant, peppers, etc.)

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Dolma (Stuffed eggplant, peppers, etc.) Serves 6

2 lbs coarsely ground American lamb (shoulder preferred) 1 cup rice 2 doz. dried baby eggplants 8 Italian peppers 2 beefsteak tomatoes 1 6-oz can tomato paste 3 tbsp. lemon juice ¾ cup dried sumac berries 4 cups water 1 tbsp salt 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Soak eggplants in warm water until soft, then rinse with water and set aside. 2. Wash the tomatoes and peppers, slice off their stem tops, scoop out their centers, then set aside. 3. Place sumac berries in a pot and add 4cups of water. Let stand for ½ hour. Strain with a sieve, then discard the berries. To the sumac water, add the lemon juice, and dissolve 3 oz. of the tomato paste. Put the sauce aside. 4. Combine the meat, rice, salt and pepper ingredients and 3 oz. of the tomato paste in a large bowl, mixing with the hands. 5. Fill the cavity of each vegetable about ¾ of the way with the meat-rice stuffing. 6. Place stuffed vegetables, starting with the eggplants, flat and face-to-face (except for the tomatoes) in a large pot. 7. Pour the sauce over the vegetables. Place a curved dish, inverted, on top of the vegetables, then put a small pot of water on top of the dish to hold the vegetables intact during cooking. 4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 45 minutes, until rice and vegetables are tender.

Note: Dolma is best served with crusty bread. May also be garnished with cold plain madzoun.