This version of Lebanese grape leaves is known as warak enab bi zeit. Each grape leaf is filled and rolled with rice, herbs and chopped vegetables, then layered into a pot with sliced vegetables. Slowly simmered in a lemony broth.
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What is Warak Enab?
The term “warak enab”, pronounced wah·rah eh·nab, can generally be used in the context of explaining you’ll be eating or that you'll be making stuffed grape leaves.
The term translates from Arabic to English as “grape leaves”.
There are two versions of warak enab - meat and rice ("bi-lahm" - "in meat") or vegetable and rice ("bi-zeit" - "in oil" known as the vegetarian version).
Other non-Middle Eastern regions call this sarma.
😋Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The flavor is beyond delicious
- Family friendly - all ages love eating this meal
- Dietary friendly - this version is naturally vegan, gluten free, corn free, soy free and nut free.
- It's a great talking point, especially for those who have never had it - impress your mates!
✔️Ingredients You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Grape leaves - can be found at your local Middle Eastern grocer. They can be found either frozen or brined.
If using frozen, thaw them out prior to use.
If using brined, rinse prior to use.
Fresh warak enab can also be used. They will need to be washed, de-stemmed and then blanched prior to rolling.
Medium grain rice is ideal. Rinse prior to use, to help release excess starch. Rice is a key filling ingredient. You can also use short-grain.
Tomato and onion will be used in the filling as well as layering between the rolled warak enab. They will need to be finely diced for the filling and sliced (1cm, ⅓in) for the layering.
Fresh parsley and mint leaves are a vital flavor in the filling, these will need to be finely chopped. I alternate between using fresh or dried ground mint.
Potato is used for layering and will need to be sliced into 1cm, ⅓in slices.
Fresh lemon juice is a key flavor and is used in the filling along with the broth. Avoid using store-bought lemon juice, fresh is best.
Olive oil, salt and black pepper. Typically this recipe can use a lot more olive oil, however, I have reduced it to a point where I think it works well.
🍛How To Make Warak Enab
Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. Set aside.
Create the grape leaf rolls. Lay flat one grape leaf, vein side up, on a flat surface. Cut off the stem.
Place one tablespoon of filling in a straight line near the stem, in the middle of the leaf.
Fold over the bottom of the leaf over the filling and then the sides, and roll up to create a cylindrical parcel. Repeat until all stuffed grape leaves are completed.
Layer the grape leaf rolls into the pot. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup.
Coat the bottom of a large pot (I used my 30cm (~12in) braising saucepan from Scanpan (affiliate link) - which works perfectly for me) with approximately 1 teaspoon of the mixture.
Place a layer of potato, then a layer of stuffed grape leaves. Sprinkle another teaspoon of the lemon mixture on top.
Next, layer sliced onion and tomato, and then another layer of stuffed grape leaves.
Layer remaining potato, onion and tomato, filling in the gaps between rolls.
Sprinkle the remaining lemon mixture. Securely place a heat-proof plate on top of the layers.
Fill the pot and cook. Pour water around the edges of the plate (not on top of the plate). until the rolls and vegetables are submerged under 1cm (⅓") of broth.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to stand for 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Test if the stuffed Lebanese grape leaves are cooked, by taking one out and eating it. If the leaf is still tough, cook until softened (up to another 20 minutes - depending on the leaves)
⭐ Pro Tips
Prepare all the vegetables before getting started, this will help speed up the process of making this meal.
Vegetables in the filling must be chopped finely, this will make it easier to roll the leaves around the filling.
Bigger grape leaves can be cut to make smaller rolls. However, I now just roll the leaf as is and don’t want to spend more time having to cut. The rolls cook fine.
If your brined leaves are tough, you can boil them for about 10-15 minutes to soften the leaves (then drain them and keep them flat) prior to rolling. I do not always do this step.
If you have never made Lebanese grape leaves, allow extra time, as the first time rolling is always slow.
A tablespoon of filling is plenty for most leaves, however as the leaves vary in size, you will need to adjust the amount slightly to accommodate.
Do not pack the leaves with filling as they will expand and can burst.
Do not roll the leaves too tightly, make the rolls taut with enough room for the filling to expand.
At the start, do not bring this to a rolling boil, as soon as the water boils, turn the heat down to low immediately. This will ensure the food doesn’t move around too much.
Serve with extra lemon, loads of people love to add extra lemon to make these extra sour.
Yes, absolutely. Alternate layering the uncooked grape leaf rolls, seal in an air-tight container and store in the freezer until needed. Alternatively, layer them flat in a recyclable zip-lock bag and freeze flat in the freezer.
Yes. Cooldown the cooked warak enab to room temperature. Transfer portions into an air-tight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw out and then reheat.
Some people even place stuffed zucchini inside the same pot when cooking this meal.
Another stuffed Lebanese recipe is my Lebanese stuffed eggplant.
Lebanese meals do feature a lot of green leaves, try my vegan molokhia - it's so good and a great way to get your greens
Warek Enab (Lebanese Grape Leaves)
- 1 Jar Grape leaves rinsed (70-90 pieces)
- 1-3 large Potatoes 1cm slices (⅓")
- 1-3 large Tomatoes 1cm slices (⅓")
- 1-3 large Onions 1cm slices
- 1½ cups Medium grain rice rinsed and drained
- 1 cup Parsley leaves finely chopped
- 1 small-medium Onion Finely diced
- 2-3 medium Tomatoes Finely diced
- 1 tablespoon Ground mint substitute with fresh mint leaves (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 small Lemon freshly squeezed
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Set aside.1½ cups Medium grain rice, 1 cup Parsley leaves, 1 small-medium Onion, 2-3 medium Tomatoes, 1 tablespoon Ground mint, 1 tablespoon Olive oil, 2 teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon Black pepper, 1 small Lemon
- Lay flat one grape leaf, vein side up, on a flat surface. Place one tablespoon of filling in a straight line near the stem, in the middle of the leaf. Fold over the bottom of the leaf over the filling and then the sides, roll up to create a cylindrical parcel. Repeat until all leaves are completed.1 Jar Grape leaves
- Make a mixture by combining 1 tablespoon olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup. Coat the bottom of a large pot with approximately 1 teaspoon of the mixture. Place a layer of sliced potato, then a layer of stuffed grape leaves. Sprinkle another teaspoon of the lemon mixture. Next, layer sliced onion and tomato, and then another layer of grape leaves. Layer remaining potato, onion and tomato, filling in the gaps between rolls. Sprinkle the remaining lemon mixture. Securely place a heat-proof plate on top of the layers.1-3 large Potatoes, 1-3 large Tomatoes, 1-3 large Onions
- Pour water around the edges of the plate (not on top of the plate) until the rolls and vegetables are submerged under 1cm (⅓") of broth.4 cups Water, 1 small Lemon, 1 tablespoon Olive oil, 1 teaspoon Salt
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes (see notes). Turn off the heat and allow the pot to stand for 15 minutes. Serve warm.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.