UCH BAJI – BADIMJAN DOLMASI (Trio Badimjan Dolmasi)
(Stuffed Eggplant, Pepper and Tomato Dolma)
Dolma usually refers to stuffed grape leaves, but there are many other forms of dolma in Azerbaijani cuisine, including eggplant, tomato, pepper, cabbage, and quince dolma. Occasionally, you will even find stuffed potatoes, onions, or cucumbers.
Uch Baji – Badimjan Dolmasi is one of the most popular forms of dolma in Azerbaijan. It is served every special occasion in a colorful trio combination consisting of a red tomato, a green bell pepper, and a purple eggplant. Usually, all three are cooked at the same time and stuffed with meat and herbs. Badimjan Dolmasi is simmered in its own juices and is served with a yogurt-garlic sauce.
*A full-sized picture of this dish is available in the Gallery.
Ingredients for 3 servings:
3 green bell peppers
1lb (½ kg) ground beef or lamb
1 large onion
1 bunch of cilantro
½ bunch of dill
½ bunch of mint
1 cup skinless crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
clarified butter or olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the vegetables and herbs.
1. Wash the eggplants, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
2. Cut a long slit down the middle of the eggplants, being careful not to cut them too deep to the bottom. Pour the butter or olive oil in a saucepan, and over low heat lightly fry them on all sides until they are soft enough to open the slit. Then, remove the eggplants from the saucepan and set them aside.
3. Cut the tops off each bell pepper and set them aside to use as lids. Remove the seeds and ribs from inside the peppers. Then lightly fry them on all sides.
4. Cut the tops off each tomato (like the bell peppers) and set them aside to use as lids. Scoop out the tomato flesh with a spoon and save it for the stuffing.
5. Wash the herbs and pat them dry with a towel to remove all water, and chop them.
Preparing the stuffing.
1. Mix the ground meat with finely chopped or ground onion.
2. Cook the stuffing in a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Stir continuously until it is well done.
3. After the meat is done cooking, add salt, pepper, chopped herbs, and tomato flesh, and mix well. Remove the stuffing from the heat and let it cool.
Preparing the tomato sauce.
Place crushed tomatoes into a small saucepan, add 1 tbsp butter, and simmer for 5-10 minutes over low heat.
Cooking the dolma.
1. Fill the vegetables with the stuffing and cover the tops of the peppers and tomatoes with their “lids.”
2. Place the vegetables side by side in the saucepan or a deep frying pan, stuffing side up.
3. Pour the tomato sauce around your vegetables, cover the pan, and simmer the dolma until all the vegetables are tender and cooked through. (Don’t overcook the vegetables, otherwise you wont be able to move them in whole from the pan to your plate.)
Dolma can be cooked in the pan, or baked in the oven as well.
Place the vegetables side by side in a deep baking pan, stuffing side up and pour the sauce around the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°С) and bake the dolma until all the vegetables are tender and cooked through.
Serve Uch Baji Dolmasi with a mixture of plain yogurt and crushed garlic.
Bon Appétit! Enjoy!
This post is also available in: Russian