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Two green bell peppers, one cut in half and 3 small tomatoes with a red checkered tea towel on a wooden board.

You know that post showing the bottoms of two bell peppers that circulates the internet like every summer. One with 3 nips on the bottom one with 4. One supposedly being male and the other female and therefore having fewer seeds to deal with. It believed it ONCE and I stood head onto the bell peppers and starting picking out only the 'male' ones thinking I was going to spend less time in the kitchen. It just resulted in me getting a telling off by an impatient Teyze (or 3) for blocking the way.

''N'yapy'n gızım?'' (Ne yapıyorsun kızım) - What are you doing my girl? 

Trying to find the ones with fewer seeds I stammered.

They're all good girl, take them, cook them, one laughed and pushed me to the side.

Smug me continued thinking I knew something they didn't.  

Yes once, it happened once, never again.

I got home and feeling with the most 'male' peppers which turn out is exactly the same as the few females the vendor added into the bag when my weight came up short.

What a waste of time that turned out to be, the prep time was exactly the same (which by the way is hardly any effort at all!) and the resulting taste just as good as usual.  



Unlike the stuffed peppers I used to eat back home Turkish peppers tend to be kept whole rather than halved, it helps keep all that delicious flavour in. The tops can be sliced off but the filling stays put better if you take a knife at a 45-degree angle, a few centimetres in from the edge and cut inwards around the stalk. 

Once you've cut the seed away the cut portions stay together and make a pretty nifty lid. If you have cherry tomatoes in scooping it out, add it to the filling mix and they make fun lids too. 


LArge green bell peppers with holes cut around the stems ready for stuffing. Bowl of uncooked baldo Turkish short grain rice above and knife with red handle below.

I probably say it more often than warranted but I really mean it this time, this is the quintessential summer stuffed vegetable dish, right? I mean don't get me wrong I love them all, and I'm particularly partial to Imam Bayıldı - Vegetable stuffed aubergines but spiced rice-filled bell peppers baked in the oven. That IS THE summer dolma for me!

I love allspice in my rice mix, I think it might be one of the best spices to complement the sweet peppers and more unusual flavours such as turmeric - zerdeçal in Turkish, not too much, enough for an earthy background taste and vibrant sunshine tones (and of course the all-important black pepper James wong's 'How to Eat Better: How to Shop, Store & Cook to Make Any Food a Superfood'. taught me. 



Plus a little fresh Reyhan, Thai basil and rosemary which really bring something to the dish for me, sweet basil works too but parsley is a usual suspect in Turkish vegetarian stuffed peppers and if you don't have the Reyhan is, of course, a suitable replacement.

Three teaspoons holding Turkish paprika, turmeric and allspice. Centred around fresh chillies, rosemary, basil and peppercorns.

Pulling the filling together is pretty easy, the rice is cooked in minimum water along with onions, tomatoes, pine nuts and then the peppers are filled before going into the oven.

A small casserole dish with lid is great from probing them up but a tray with aluminium works just as great too. They're lidded for half the cook time to help the rice steam away and then uncovered for the remaining time but extra flavour. 

A little sundried red pepper paste is added to the cooking water but if you don't have it triple concentrate tomato paste will be just great. 

Enamel pie dishes, front with two rice stuffed peppers and one with cooked summer vegetables in garlic dressing. Mustard yellow tea towel at back with cutlery


I like mine out the oven and resting for a good hour before serving, they just mellow out delightfully at that point where they're not hot but not quite cool. We usually serve up with lashings of thick yoghurt and garlic based vegetable dish called Ağartmalı turşu for that reason, I don't put garlic in my own cooking but recommend a clove if you're not serving with garlic yoghurt or pickles.


Afiyet olsun C x



Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers Zeytinyağlılar Biber Dolması

Possibly the quintessential summer stuffed-vegetable dish. Creamy fragrant rice with a sweet honey undertone. These vegetarian stuffed bell peppers are packed with Turkish Mediterranean flavours. Great as a side but deserve to take pride of place as a summer's evening main meal.



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Category: Vegetable based dishes 'Zeytinyağlılar'
Cuisine Type Turkish


Turkish Stuffed Peppers

6 Large Bell 'Dolmalık' peppers
185 Grams Short grain rice* (1 'Su' glass)
200 Milliliter Water (1 'Su' glass)
2 Medium Onions, chopped fine
65 Milliliter Olive oil (1/2 'Çay' glass)
2 Tablespoons Pine nuts
1 Garlic clove*
2 Medium-sized Tomatoes
6 Reyhan or basil leaves*
Few leaves fresh rosemary
1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 Teaspoon Hot (Or sweet) Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Blackpepper
1 Teaspoon Honey

For oven baking

50 Milliliter Water
1 Tablesppon Pepper paste (Or tomato)

For dessing

1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1/2 Juice of half lemon
Pul biber / Aleppo pepper flakes

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers Zeytinyağlılar Biber Dolması Directions

  1. Wash the rice until the water runs clear, drain and set aside.
  2. Wash the peppers. Using a knife carefully cut into the top of the pepper creating a circle around the stalk.
  3. Lift away the core and place it on a chopping, slice between the green pepper top and the white core to cut away the seeds.
  4. Retain the pepper tops to use as lids later, or if preferred save some tomato bottoms to use as covers.
  5. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces, these can be peeled if preferred but it's not necessary to do so.
  6. In a medium saucepan, use the oil to soften the onions, frying them until they become silky and translucent.
  7. Add the drained rice and fry gently with the onions allow the grains to coat in the oil. The rice will become also translucent after a few minutes.
  8. Add tomatoes, spices and garlic (if using) to the saucepan and mix in the honey and one glass (200mls) of water.
  9. Bring the saucepan to a boil, cover and place on simmer. Cook for around 15 minutes or until the water has been completely absorbed.
  10. Remove from the heat and add in the chopped fresh herbs and pine nuts.
  11. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  12. Spoon the rice filling into the cavity of the peppers and place the tops on to cover.
  13. Place, the peppers upright into a small ovenproof casserole dish that has a lid or a small ovenproof tray. Using a small pot/tray will help the peppers to support themselves upright so the rice steams within the oven.
  14. In a glass, mix the water and pepper paste (or tomato if the pepper is unavailable). Pour this liquid into the bottom of the tray/pot.
  15. Cover with the lid or aluminium foil and place in the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for 1 hour, setting a timmer for 30 minutes.
  16. After the first 30 minutes, remove the lid/foil and cook for the second half uncovered.
  17. Can be served immediately, cooled or chilled.
  18. Especially good rested out of the oven for one hour and served alongside garlic-infused thick yoghurt or Ağartmalı turş - Summer Veg With Garlic Dressing

Recipe notes

  • Bell peppers in Turkey come in the widest array of sizes possible, from minute to eye-watering. I usually base my cooking on that 3 small, 2 small to medium and 1 large per person is sufficient and so the filling quantities can stay the same for these numbers.


  • Should you have too much filling simple scoop out the flesh of an alternative vegetable such as tomato or courgette and bake alongside.


  • If you run short the filling can be easily bulked out with some extra tomato, grated carrot & onion, or even cheese.


  • I favour a filling mix of Turkish 'Baldo' rice which is a starchy short grain and a tablespoon or two of broken 'kirik' rice. Short grain rice helps for a creamy texture so another short-grain such as Arborio rice works well. Otherwise, if you have pudding rice in a couple of tablespoons to your usual rice should give the desired effect.


  • Reyhan is punchy basil often purple but not always, that can be found on the market here in Turkey. Thai basil is the best subsitıte but sweet basil will also complement the dish well too. If you prefer parsley is a more commonly used herb.


  • Biber salçası is a delightful sundried paste of red peppers, it comes in either hot or sweet varieties and lends beautiful flavour and colour. If you dınt have that you can substitute triple concentrate tomato paste.

Reviews 4/5

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