The first thing that came to my mind when I saw these peppers at the farmer’s market was “Stuffed Peppers”. The bell peppers were perfect for stuffing as they were small. Most of the bell peppers we see at regular markets are oversized and not a perfect fit for stuffing. I was very pleased.
A variety of stuffing can be used for this dish. If interested in different stuffing recipes, please see my Stuffed Grape Leaves with Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarması) and Stuffed Mixed Vegetables (Karışık Dolma) recipes under Stuffed Dishes category. Currently, I only have two, but this list will grow eventually.
This dish uses ground chicken in the stuffing. My mother sometimes uses chicken instead of beef for stuffing dolmas. It really gives it a great taste. This is the first time I used chicken for dolmas myself and I am sorry I had not used it all this time.
Now let’s get to the recipe. It is not as complicated as it looks and does not consume a lot of your time. Give it a try and you will love it! No question.
15 small bell peppers (you may also use eggplants, zucchinis or tomatoes)
For the Stuffing:
1½ cups short grain rice
1 lb ground chicken
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 large chopped garlic clove (or 2 small ones)
Juice of 1 lime
½ chopped onion
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red pepper paste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
For Cooking the Pepper Dolmas:
1 large sliced garlic clove
2 sprigs of mint
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
Mix all the ingredients for stuffing with your hands to make sure all the ingredients are integrated. Set aside. I always use first aid gloves for this as I do not want to make my hands take different colors.
With a sharp paring knife, cut square on the top portion of the pepper and remove the stems from the peppers. Then remove the seeds. Do not discard the stem that you removed as it will be used as a cap for the peppers after they are stuffed.
Stuff each pepper up to the top but leave a 1/2 of an inch of room so that when the rice expands after cooking, it will have room.
Once all the peppers are stuffed, sprinkle the peppers with salt. Squeeze the lime on top of the peppers, throw in the sliced garlic and the mint. Add the water and place two-three small plates to add weight on the peppers so that they stay compact. Cover and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook another 30-40 minutes. After turning the heat off, keep the lid closed for about 15 minutes so it still continues cooking with the heat inside the pot. Serve warm along with yogurt or cacık.