New Year’s Stuffed Foods




In the Greek world, wrapped and stuffed foods are prominent features at Christmas meals and New Year’s banquets. 

In pastoral and agricultural societies stuffed foods link human and agricultural fertility,  the life of the individual and the cycle of the agricultural year. Meat, grains, nuts, are the products of the hard work of this cycle. Moreover, stuffed foods are used as symbols of hopes, fertility and prosperity. From simple to the most elaborate, they are full of wonderful things so they are considered a powerful way to bring abundance and good luck into life. 

St. Claus’ dolma (Ο dolmas tou Ai Vasili)
This recipe was brought to Greece by Turkish-speaking native Greeks of Anatolia, especially of the Cappadocia. They were expelled to Greece during the 1924 population exchange between Turkey and Greece that followed the Turkish-Greek War of 1919-1922
Traditionally, the dolmas tou Ai Vasili was cooked in a tandır (pit oven).



 1 baby lamb, head and hind legs removed

4 medium onions, finely chopped

3 1/2 cups of bulgur or  washed rice

3/4 cup of dark raisins

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tbsp cinnamon powder

1/3 tbs ground clove 

olive oil

trussing needle

string

    Rub the lamb with a little olive oil, and season the surface with salt and pepper.

    In a large frying pan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom, and sauté the onion lightly, until it starts to soften. Add walnuts and hazelnuts. Stir in 1 cup of water, raisins, salt, pepper, spices and bulgur or rice. Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Stuff the lamb stomach cavity with the filling and sew it up with trussing needle and string. Place in a deep roaster and roast at 200C for 3 hours.
    When it is cooked, remove the string and place the lamb on a warmed serving dish to keep warm. Serve with  filling on the side. 
    With my warmest New Year’s wishes
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