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Lebanese stuffed grape leaves

Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves (Warak enab bi lahme)

Grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice cooked in a rich tomato sauce

Course Main Course
Cuisine Lebanese
Keyword Authentic, Healthy, Slow cooking
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Zaatar and Zaytoun


  • 500g of grape leaves
  • Boiling hot water for blanching

For the stuffing

  • 250 g of minced meat lamb or beef
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 2 to matoes chopped finely
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp seven spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Small handful of parsley chopped finely
  • 10-15 mint leaves chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup regular olive oil
  • 11/2 cup short grain rice

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 carton of passata approx 500g
  • Extra water if necessary
  • 2 lemons juiced
  • 3/4 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp of regular olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mint


To prepare the grape leaves

  1. If you are using fresh leaves, trim the stalks and blanche them in boiling hot water for five minutes and drain. If you are using grape leaves from the jar, rinse them in cold water and drain

To prepare the stuffing

  1. Wash the rice and soak in some water for around half an hour. Then drain the rice and add to a large mixing bowl
  2. Add the mince meat, chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion, seven spice, white and black pepper, salt and oil. Mix well and set aside

To make the warak enab

  1. Prepare your work area with a large plate to roll the grape leaves on, the stuffing, a large tray, some white string and a large cooking pot
  2. Lay out one grape leaf on the plate and add 1 tablespoon of stuffing in the middle of the grape leaf and tuck in the sides. Roll up firmly and gently into a cigar shape (See video)
  3. Adjust the stuffing amount depending on the size of the leaf. Stack the rolled up grape leaves on the large tray
  4. When you have rolled up a good batch, take five or six pieces and tie them with the white string roughly 30cm long. Stack these little parcels gently in the large cooking pot

  5. When you have finished tying your grape leaf parcels, pour on the carton of passata, salt, regular olive oil, juice of 1 lemon and top up with water if necessary so all the parcels are covered

  6. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer

  7. After half an hour of cooking, add the garlic, dried mint and juice of another lemon. Cover the pot with a lid.
  8. Simmer for another half an hour and taste the sauce to see if it needs any seasoning, salt or lemon adjustment

  9. Taste one grape leaf to ensure it is done before turning off the heat. The total cooking time should be around one hour and 20 minutes

  10. Serve in a shallow bowl with some of the remaining tomato sauce

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

If you are in tomato season, instead of passata you can use enough fresh tomatoes that have been blitzed in a food processor to cover the warak enab parcels