Wara Enab Bizeit (Stuffed vine leaves appetiser)

A very famous Mezze in Arabic cuisine.

They come prepared in a variety of ways, but no matter how you prepare them, they remain a favourite and always taste great. The differences are in each family’s different ingredients, spice mixes and secret filling recipes. Despite these differences, they are almost all the same.

This recipe is for the Lebanese/Syrian appetiser wara enab, not the Palestinian Main Course preparation, which is a hot main dish. Back in the day, this cold appetiser was considered a cheat (and named as such especially in Syria) as it does not include meat (vegetarian) while some call it ‘Syami’ literally meaning for fasting during lent before easter. It is a famous offering on Middle eastern Buffets for get togethers, cocktail parties… etc. While the Palestinian Main Course one is served hot and includes meats. Another version of appetiser stuffed vine leaves is Yalangi, which as far as I know is original to Aleppo/Syria, however some think it came to Aleppo from Turkey. More about Yalangi in another post.

I have experimented a lot and have many recipes for this dish, but found this to be very easy and fast to prepare, also really delicious… Hope you like it too 🙂


Serves: 8
  • 500g fresh or canned vine leaves
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into thick slices
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 3 tbsp DS Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the filling

  • Use tabbouleh as filling, replacing bulgur with the same quantity of Egyptian rice.
  • 1 tbsp DS Red Shatta (red chili sauce)

Directions for Rolling Vine leaves

Soak fresh leaves in hot water for 5 minutes. If using canned leaves, just drain the the leaves and rinse them. Place the shiny side of leaves down, and vein side upwards. Fill each leaf with 1 tsp of filling. Start by tucking in the sides of the leaf towards the centre, then roll like a cigar.

Sprinkle some olive oil, salt, black pepper & crushed garlic into bottom of cooking pot. Using a brush, mix and brush the mixture all around the bottom and  sides of pot. Line the pot with 1 layer of potatoes, then a layer of tomatoes. Arrange the stuffed, rolled vine leaves on top very tightly in a circle. Add the 3 tbsp oil and pour water to cover the ingredients. Place a heat-proof plate upside down on top of the vine leaves to hold them in place.

Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 40-45 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature then chill turned over on the serving platter.

Serve chilled.

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