OSH YARPAGI is the dish of the Mountain Jews from Azerbaijan.
Mountain Jews are well known for their delicious cuisine. Many of dishes have been influenced by Azerbaijani cuisine and often share almost the same names as their Azerbaijani counterparts, but the Mountain Jews have their own, strictly national dishes as well. One is Yarpagi (yar-pa-khi)–cabbage leaves stuffed with chopped meat and cooked in a sour sauce. Yarpagi is usually served with Osh (rice).
*A full-sized picture of this dish is available in the Gallery.
Ingredients for 8 servings:
for 15-16 medium size Yarpagi
1 lb (½ kg) beef
1 lb (½ kg) lamb
2 lb (900g) lamb riblets
1 large onion
½ cup short-grain rice
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of dill
1 large white cabbage
1 large quince (in fall season)
1 cup of sour dried plums (or ½ cup sauce)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
4 cups long-grain Basmati rice (cup size 250 ml)
5 quarts (5 liter) water
5 tbsp salt
Preparing the stuffing.
Cut the meat into very small size pieces.
Peel and chop the onions.
Chop washed and dried herbs.
In a large bowl mix together the meat, onion, herbs, washed rice, and season with a salt and pepper.
Preparing the sauce.
1. Place the dried sour plums in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil.
2. Lower the heat and simmer until the plums are soft enough to mush.
3. Then strain them through a colander into the bowl, pressing and rubbing softened plums to get the pulp out but keeping the pits and skins in the colander.
4. The sauce should have a consistency like ketchup. Store it in refrigerator when you’re done.
Preparing the cabbage.
Leaves of cabbage need to be softened so that they are soft enough to be pulled off of the head and rolled up with stuffing.
Remove the core from the head of cabbage with a knife, place the whole cabbage in a large pot of boiling water, and leave to simmer. As cabbage’s leaves soften, use a fork to separate them from the rest of the cabbage.
Place the softened leaves in a colander to drain. Repeat until all of the usable leaves are free. When the leaves are cool enough to handle, use a knife to remove as much as the tough stem from each leaf as you can without cutting through the leaf itself.
Preparing the Yarpagi .
Place the meat filling (about 2 table spoons) on the leaf and fold the leaf into shape of square or rectangle, making sure the sides and corners are fold tightly.
Place some unused leaves at the bottom of the saucepan, and then place each folded Yarpagi as close as possible to each other.
Spread around lamb riblets (season them with salt and pepper to your taste.)
Somewhere, randomly, on top, place the cleaned and sliced pieces of quince.
On top place a suitable inverted plate, to prevent Yarpagi from unfolding during the cooking process.
Pour boiling water or a beef stock to the level of the plate, and over the medium heat bring it to the boil. Turn the heat down, cover the saucepan with a lid, and simmer for about 4 hours over low heat.
Remove the plate from the saucepan and pour the sauce all over the Yarpagi.
Cover the lid and cook for another hour over a very low heat.
Preparing the Osh (rice/pilaf).
1. Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water several times until the water stays clear, to remove excess starch.
2. Fill a pot (or saucepan) with water, add salt, and bring it to a boil. Place the rice into the boiling water. Stir, lower the heat to medium, and let it cook for 10 minutes (cooking time is depending on the quality of your rice). Cooked rice should be soft on the outside and hard inside, but not raw and not overcooked.
3. Strain the rice using a colander, and rinse with a hot water, to wash out an extra salt.
4. Move the rice into a pot.
5. Wrap the lid of the pot in a tea towel and cover the rice. Cook over a very low heat for about 45-60 minutes. Put a heat diffuser or a pan under your pot to prevent burning.
Serve Yarpagi with Osh, generously pour the sauce over the rice.
Bon Appétit! Enjoy!
This post is also available in: Russian