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What Is Yaprak?

By Sonal Panse
Updated May 16, 2024
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Yaprak means leaf in the Turkish language. The term in the culinary sense is used to describe a variety of stuffed vegetable dishes as well as stuffed meat dishes that a part of Turkish cuisine. While yaprak is a traditionally Turkish dish, these type of stuffed dishes are also prepared in other world cuisines, using grape, mulberry, taro and other edible leaves.

The yaprak dish consists of vegetables and meats that are wrapped or rolled in a grape leaf. The vegetable or meat leaf rolls are then fried in olive oil, boiled or steamed. Yaprak ingredients for the vegetarian dish usually include apples, coriander, cinnamon, dill, eggplants, kale, mint, onions, pepper, quinces, tomato, and zucchini. The meats that are generally used to make yaprak are beef, lamb and pork. It is also possible to use boiled rice, kidney beans, lentils and peas to prepare the leaf stuffing.

The grape leaves that are used to make yaprak may be plucked fresh from a vine or they may be purchased; it is possible to buy fresh grape leaves or leaves that have been pickled in salt water in many supermarkets. The fresh grape leaves will need to be boiled until they have softened. The pickled ones should be immersed in water to reduce their saltiness.

For the stuffing, the vegetables are chopped into small pieces, and if meat is used, it is minced. The vegetables and meat may be cooked and seasoned beforehand. The stuffing is placed on a softened grape leaf and the leaf is rolled carefully so as not to tear it.

If the rolls are to be fried, some olive oil is heated in a pan and the rolls are carefully fried in it; it is necessary to turn the rolls with care so they do not unfold. If the rolls are to be boiled or steamed, they are placed on a layer of grape leaves in a pot and some amount of water, just enough to cover the rolls, is added to the pot. The pot is placed on medium heat until the water comes to a boil, and then the heat is turned low and the rolls are cooked for a couple of hours.

The cooked rolls may be eaten hot or cold. It is usual to eat them with a sauce made by combining chillies, mint and vegetable oil. Sometimes the rolls are cooked in this sauce. Yaprak is also eaten with yogurt mixed with crushed garlic.

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