Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sogan Dolma!


Sogan Dolma, mmm, stuffed onions. I know maybe the dish does not sound ultra-tempting, but trust me it is! It is usually known as a Bosnian dish, but with the Balkans who knows where it is from. We are a very mixed up society politically, culturally, cuisine-wise. Anyway it is delicious, but also a very heavy dish as with most Balkan dishes. In the former Yugoslavia, it tended to get cold, so hearty dishes were important. However, I have created a lighter take on the dish, especially since I created this lighter take in Italy, I will use vegetables I can find to be seasonal. I will list my recipe below, but here is a link to another blog that has a more original recipe: http://almostturkish.blogspot.com/2007/12/stuffed-onions-soan-dolmas.html! Just remember, all those spices do not give you the Balkan-version of the dish, I would omit the sumac and red pepper paste. TRY AND FIND VEGETZ! If you are from the region you know what I am talking about, the spice that flavors your life. Add it to the dish and you will not be disappointed. Anywhere here goes my hearty, but health friendly version:
Ingredients:
Regular Medium – Large size onions (as many as you need for the dish)
Vegetz
Oregano
6 Dry Bay leaves
Salt
Crushed Red Pepper
Paprika
Curry (if you prefer, it gives it an interesting flavor)
Olive oil
Chicken breast
Crushed Tomatoes
1 cup of green or black olives
1 eggplant
1 zucchini
3 carrots
1 red pepper
*With all the ingredients, I flavor to taste, so I add a basic amount, than re-add to see what I want the flavor to be like. I believe flavoring is about tasting; this belief has also been supported by the Italian nonna’s.
Directions: 
1.  1   Fill up a pot with water and let it boil. Place onions in the water until soft enough so that the middle will come out without too much tearing. However, beware do not let them get too soft! Prep all the vegetables by dicing them! Also in a bowl mix all spices together, (without bay leaves)

2.     Then fill up a bowl with cold water and place the onions in there after they boiled. It will make it easier to push out the layers. There are a few ways to do it: I prefer a firmer onion that stands for a nicer presentation, however you can use all the layers to stuff. It is up to you! When they are in the bowl you firmly use a finger to push each layer out without ripping it.

3.     Now arrange them onions you will use neatly in a pan. Usually at my apartment I would stew them so I would have put them in a bowl off to the side until I filled them. However, I was making them at Keli’s for his mom and sister. Therefore I decided to bake them, but either way is fine.
4.     Salt the chicken breast and dice it. Now in a wok type pan, put all your vegetables together with the chicken breast. Add olive oil and let it cook. You do not want your veggies too mushy, but just right so watch over them. Taste them and add spice if needed. 



5.    Leave the onions arranged in the pan or dish (depending on if you bake or stew them) and stuff them. Whatever is remaining and can not be stuffed stays in the wok because we will make a little gjel or harxh (albanian term for a stew). Add
 the crushed tomatoes to the wok with the bay leaves. Slice the olives and remaining onions (as to not waste anything) and add them to the wok as well. Allow it to settle for a taste to evolve.









 6.     Once the taste is to your liking, add the mixture to the pan and bake at 375 F  until the dish is warmed up. If you are stewing it add the stuffed onions to the wok and also cook until warmed up.

   7..     I usually serve them in a bowl and since my onions are firm enough they stand and I fill the space around them with my little mini stew. I try and set them up in threes (triangle shapes) because it is very pretty. Usually the colors and presentation is very nice so I do not add any extra mints. I would suggest serving it with a light salad on the side or brown rice since the dish is already including enough food groups. I also use one of the carrots and ribbon it (basically peel it constantly until I get shreds that looks like ribbon ends and put it on top.

8.     I hope you enjoy!
Other Tips for the Original:
            If you really like the original recipe on almost Turkish, I would consider using the spice list I have in combination with that one since the VEGETZ is a very traditional spice that we use. Also try brown rice instead of regular to keep it healthier and the red onions are definitely a cute idea, but if you want a firmer presentation like mine, use the regular onions. 




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