The story behind stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”)

In Ancient Greece, stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”) were known as “thria” and they were initially made with fig tree leaves. Hippolytus, a member of the team who built the Parthenon, depicted Goddess Hera tasting this delicious treat on one of the Parthenon pediments. 

Approximately two centuries later, Alexander the Great got into the city of Thebes. During the grand gathering (“symposium”) organised by his generals, Alexander the Great was served a fine dish. Knowing that Thebes was an impoverished region, he decided to enter the kitchen to find out what this delicious and tasteful dish was. This was when he saw the cooks preparing and wrapping stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”) as we know them today. During his expedition, Alexander the Great led to the spread of “thria” as a nourishing and flavoursome Greek dietary suggestion. The dish of “dolmadakia” is still served today in many different forms and under many different names in countries of the Orient and Asia and is always a delicious choice.

During the Turkish occupation of Greece, the Ottomans loved wrapped and filled vine leaves. They named them “dolma,” from the Turkish verb “dolmak” which means “to fill.” At the same time, the Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontos created a vegetarian version of “dolma,” which is known today as “dolmadakia yalantzi,” i.e., “dolma” filled with rice but without meat. Olive oil and herbs are also added. This is how an appetizing meal, which is also ideal for religious fasting, is prepared.  

During the Enlightenment, stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”) were used to educate the public. Adamantios Korais, a prominent Greek scholar, handed to the occupied Greeks “dolmadakia” in which he had hidden little paper rolls with translated excerpts from works of prominent European philosophers and thinkers. This was his way of giving courage and hope to occupied Greeks. During that time, “dolmadakia” were deemed illegal, but became once again part of the Greek culinary tradition after the liberation of Greece from the Ottomans.

Today, stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”) by the Kyriakakis family is a great food choice for every occasion. Made with tender vine leaves grown in Cretan vineyards, this dish is here to please and win everyone over. The stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”) of the “Meraklidika” series are available to wholesale clients and can become a great signature dish of restaurant and hotel menus. Stuffed vine leaves (“dolmadakia”) of the “Greens & Yellows” series are available to retail clients and can be found in selected retail stores.