Grape leave legume tolma on a plate.

Armenian Lenten Grape Leaf Tolma with Legumes

Indulge in the delightful flavors of lenten grape leaf tolma tolma with legumes, an authentic vegan dish that can be savored either warm or cold. This recipe brings together three types of legumes, each contributing unique texture and taste, resulting in a truly satisfying culinary experience.

Grape leaf tolma with bean and legumes.

Chronicles

Lenten tolma is one of the most cherished dishes of traditional Armenian cuisine, particularly during New Year and Armenian Christmas celebrations. Historically, Armenian holidays were ushered in with a week of fasting, during which the consumption of animal products was abstained from.

Notably, the Great Lent, preceding Easter, represented a longer period of fasting. Although shorter fasting periods are less commonly observed today, the Great Lent remains a prominent tradition. The food prepared and shared during these days continues to hold strong significance in Armenian culture. This particular tolma, entirely plant-based, showcases a delightful combination of legumes and herbs, neatly wrapped in grape leaves.

What’s Special About Lenten Tolma Recipe?  

Lenten tolma with legumes is an authentic vegan dish.
It can be eaten both warm and cold.
The three types of legumes used in this dish have a variety of textures and tastes.
Using canned beans can expedite the process of making this dish.

Grocery and Pantry List

  • Onion: Use any kind of onions. Finely diced onions are gently fried in olive oil. During this process, the pungent taste mellows and becomes sweeter.
  • Lentil: Brown lentils, the most readily available lentils. This is the best option for this tolma. They don’t require pre-soaking and they cook within 15-20 minutes.
  • Chickpea: Use either canned or dry chickpeas. Dry chickpeas require presoaking and cooking. See Link Hummus recipe on how to cook dry chickpeas.
  • Red Bean: Red kidney beans are also available in cans. Dry beans also require presoaking and cooking. You can use other beans also and get creative.
  • Bulgur: Bulgur acts as a binding ingredient. You can use more coarsely ground bulgur #2. 
  • Grape leaves: You can use both fresh and canned leaves. Fresh leaves are sold in Middle Eastern or specialty grocery stores during the season. The grape leaves in jars are really handy. They come in a brine solution that you need to rinse off. 
  • Parsley/cilantro: You can use either of these herbs or even a combination of those. Use the leaves and tender stems. 
  • Sour plum/burberry: Sour dried plums are traditionally used for this tolma. I like to also use fresh cranberries since they have enough tartness and vibrant red color.
ingredients for legume tolma.

Make Lenten Grape Leaf Tolma – Step by Step 

Making the Legume Filling for Tolma

To make the stuffing you will need all the legumes cooked and drained.  See how to cook beans in Hummus – Creamy Delicious Chickpeas . If you are using beans from the can, rinse and drain the required amount of beans and set aside.

Finely dice the onion and saute in a generous amount of oil for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. 

Chop the herbs, parsley, or cilantro. 

In a bowl big enough to hold all the rest of the ingredients, combine all the legumes, bulgur, chopped parsley, or cilantro. Add the sauteed onions and mix all together.

Instead of sour plums, I use cranberries and burberries to give a taste of tartness. You can also use freshly squeezed lemon.

Preparing the Grape Leaves

If using canned grape leaves, pull the bundle from the jar, and soak them in hot water for 5 minutes to remove the metallic brine taste and any unnecessary brining salts. 
Trim the grape leaf stems if they are too long.
Open and smoothen the leaves and place them shiny side down. 

Rolling the Tolma

Have everything ready for the assembly, the legume stuffing, and prepared grape leaves. I use a clear plastic tablecloth to cover my working area. 
Place the grape leaves (shiny face down) on a surface. 

Put a spoonful of stuffing on top of each leaf, just under the stem cavity, and form an oblong cylindrical shape across the leaf. With your hands help the filling to stay in place. 
Start folding: bring the leaf base over the filling and tuck it in.

Then fold the sides and keep rolling into cigar shaped little logs. They should not be too tight or too loose but rather firm. 

In a cooking pot arrange a few grape leaves on the bottom of the pan, and start arranging the rolled tolmas along the parameter and spiral inwards. 

Once all the tolmas are arranged, slip in a non-reactive plate that is a tad smaller than the cooking pot. Place the upside down plate on top of the tolmas to keep them intact and submerged. 

Pour water, just enough, so that it washes off the edges of the plate. 
Place on stove and bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, dial the heat down to the lowest setting and let it cook slowly for 30-40 minutes.

Tips and Wisdom From Cafe Osharak

The Best Way to Serve the Grape Leaf Stuffed Tolma

This vegetarian vegan tolma recipe is usually served cold or at room temperature. It can be served as a side dish or an appetizer, with a dash of lemon juice or with yogurt. 

More  Recipes From Cafe Osharak

If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and let us know in the comments! We love hearing feedback from our readers and would be thrilled to know that you found the recipe to be delicious and easy to make. And if you have any suggestions for variations or tweaks to the recipe, we’re always open to new ideas.

And also check other truly plant based recipes.

Armenian Lenten Grape Leaf Tolma with Legumes

Armenian lenten tolma with legumes, an authentic vegan delicacy that can be enjoyed both warm and cold. This recipe artfully combines three distinct types of legumes, each lending its own distinct texture and flavor.
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Grape leave legume tolma on a plate.
Prep Time:45 minutes
Cook Time:45 minutes
Course
Main Course
Cuisine
Armenian

Ingredients

  • 250 g leaves
  • 150 g garbanzo beans
  • 150 g lentil
  • 100 g red beans
  • 50 g bulgur
  • 150 g onion
  • 75 g olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon burberry
  • 8-10 cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

Legume Stuffing

  • In a big bowl add all the beans; and lentils, and bulgur.
  • In a frying pan add the olive oil and sautee the diced onions over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. The onion will start sizzling and gradually change from translucent to a golden brown.
  • Pour the caramelized onion with the oil onto the bean mixture and toss them all together.
  • Add the chopped herbs; season with salt, pepper, and cranberries.

Preparing Grape Leaves

  • Pull the grape leaf bundles from the jar, and soak them in a hot water for 5 minutes to remove the metallic brine taste and any unnecessary brining salts.
  • Trim the grape leaf stems if they are too long.
  • Open and smoothen the leaves and place them shiny side down on a flat surface.

Assembling and Cooking tolma

  • Place the grape leaves (shiny face down) on a surface.
  • Put a spoonful of stuffing on top of each leave, just under the stem cavity, and form an oblong cylindrical shape across the leaf. With your hands, help the filling to stay in place.
  • Start folding: Bring the leaf base over the filling and tuck it in.
  • Then fold the sides and keep rolling into cigar shape little logs. They should not be too tight or too loose but rather firm.
  • In a cooking pot arrange a few grape leaves on the bottom of the pan, and start arranging the rolled tolmas along the parameter and spiral inwards.
  • Once all the tolmas are arranged, slip in a non-reactive plate that is a tad smaller than the cooking pot. Place an upside down plate on top of the tolmas to keep them intact and submerged.
  • Pour water, just enough, so that it washes off the edges of the plate.
  • Put on a stove and bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, dial the heat down to the lowest setting and cook slowly for 30-40 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 98mg | Potassium: 161mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 623IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 5mg
Servings: 25 each
Calories: 103kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @osharak.cafe or tag #osharak.cafe!

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2 Comments

  1. Hello,
    I just wondered where you are located, because my family has called warm rolled grape leaves “sarma” and cold rolled grape leaves “yalanchi.” Warm stuffed green peppers and tomatoes we call “dolma.”

    1. Hi, Janet, thanks for your comment. I live in Colorado but I am originally from Yerevan, Armenia. Tolma is the name of the dish used in different regions of Armenia, both in Western and Eastern Armenia. The variations and types of tolma are endless.

      I am familiar with the terms “sarma” and “yalanchi.” The name “sarma” in some Western Armenian towns was derived from a Turkic word that means “rolled.” “Yalanchi,” meaning “fake,” referred to any tolma which did not contain meat. Squash, tomatoes, and peppers stuffed with meat were called “dolma”. For over 500 years under Ottoman Empire rule, many traditional and local dishes were given Turkic names (sarma, yalanchi, etc.). From an etymological standpoint, “tol” or “tolum” is the Armenian name of the grape leaves and has ancient linguistic roots (connects to tolma).

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