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Recipes from Iraq: Dolma

Our Matching Grant Coordinator, Shahad Taha, shares the recipe for one of her favorite dishes to make, Dolma. The stuffed with flavor dish is very important for many of the families we serve as it is one of the signature dishes for gatherings.  

The month of April is a special month for many of the families we serve as they celebrate Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice). Shahad Taha shares a popular dish she and her family enjoy during the celebration.  

Shahad shares her recipe for a savory dish, Dolma, which she describes as “a dish that’s popular for gatherings,” and is also “served throughout the year.” 

“It’s a very popular dish in Iraq, and the surrounding countries also have their version of Dolma. It’s the kind of dish grandmas would make when they want to invite their grandkids over.  

There are 3 big steps in making this dish: mixing, filling, and cooking! 

Shahad’s dolma recipe for 4 servings


2 cups of rice 

2 lb. of ground beef 

4 onions – 2 for the mix, 2 for filling 

4 tomatoes – 2 for the mix, 2 for filling 

2 Zucchinis 

2 potatoes 

2 green peppers 

Vine leaves (as many as you’d like) 

2 strands of parsley 

1 tbs paprika 

1 tbs salt 

1 tbs lemon powder 

1 tbs cumin 

½ tbs pepper 

16 oz pasta sauce 


In a big bowl, add 2 cups of rice, 2 lb. of ground beef, 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped tomatoes, and 2 strands of chopped parsley. 

Add all the seasonings to the bowl: 1 tbs paprika, 1 tbs salt, 1 tbs lemon powder, 1 tbs cumin, ½ tbs pepper. 

(Dolma seasoning is also available in stores) 

Mix all together.

After mixing well, add 16 oz of pasta sauce and mix more.


Start with the vine leaves, fill it with the mix and roll it up.

Peel the layers of the 2-remaining onions and fill with the mix and roll it.

Take the 2-remaining tomatoes, scrap out the inside, and add in the mix.

Take the potatoes, green peppers and zucchinis, cut the top off, scrap the inside out and fill it with the mix, and close it.


In a medium sized pot, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot.

Take all the rolled-up vine leaves, put them on the bottom, add the rolled-up onions on top, followed by the filled tomatoes, potatoes, zucchinis, then green peppers.  

Turn the stove on very low and leave pot on there for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, add 1 cup of water and turn heat to medium and leave for 45 minutes, until you see that it’s cooked.

Once it’s cooked, have a big tray ready, flip the pot and dump it in the big tray (The dish is served with Iraq bread) 

صحة و العافية على قلبكم 

“Health and wellness to your heart.” 

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Kler Soe is the Communications Specialist at World Relief Quad Cities. She joined the team after graduating from St. Ambrose University in May of 2023 with a degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communication. As a refugee herself, she hopes to bring awareness to World Relief’s work through stories. 

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