Artist’s palate: Hussein Chalayan’s dolmades
Hussein Chalayan, whose avant-garde designs and video installations spend as much time in contemporary art galleries as on catwalks or in Lady Gaga videos, has reached into his Turkish-Cypriot childhood for this month’s recipe. His grape leaf dolmas, also known as a sarma, are an ascetic variant containing just tomatoes, onions and mint, thereby eschewing the currants, pine nuts and, indeed, meat that many-a-stuffed vine might include.
2 onions (finely chopped)
2 large tomatoes (skinned and cubed)
2 cups of long-grain white rice
1 packet of vine leaves (fresh are preferable but difficult to get)
1 large handful of dried mint leaves (roughly chopped)
juice of five lemons
½ a cup of olive oil
salt and pepper
Rinse the rice and put in a large bowl. Add the onions, tomatoes, mint leaves, lemon juice and olive oil and season. Soften the vine leaves in boiling water; remove and refresh in cold water. Place wet leaf veiny side up on a chopping board and remove the stem. Place a teaspoonful of rice in the middle of the leaf; fold pointed ends inwards and start rolling from the bottom until you get one smooth roll. Tightly pack the rolls into a large sauce-pan, then place a small plate on top of them. Cover with cold water taking care not to fill it above the plate. Place on the hob until the water simmers; turn down the heat and cover. After 30 minutes check the water has been completely absorbed. Eat when cooled, with salad and raw onion. They are especially good when eaten cold the next day.