Lent (vegetarian) Warak Dawali


I love Autumn.  The colours, the light, the flavours.  This is the time of year that we pick all the remaining vine leaves off the grape vines to freeze for the winter months.  We always make one big pot of vine leaves though, before the rest are prepared for the freezer.

This is such a favourite in my house that we barely recognise how long it can take to make.  But then we also make so much that it feeds us for a very long time.

The programme I used to run supports a woman in Al Khader near Bethlehem.  Her home was in a once beautiful location overlooking olive groves and rolling hills.  She was now living directly under an Israeli military watch-tower with the illegal separation barrier coming right into her smallholding.  The Israeli authorities had issued her with an eviction notice as her home and her modest land was where they wanted to build the wall.  We were helping her plant her land to support her case that eth land was needed to help her legal case to stay in her home with her family.  The vines we provided her with where so well looked after that they were the biggest grapes and loveliest leaves I have ever seen- she was very proud of them unsurprisingly.

Ours here in the UK aren’t as fabulous as hers, but our leaves are a good size and we are also always very proud of our crop- and the delicious food we cook with them!

These are called Lent Warak Dawali because they are vegetarian so those fasting (cutting all meat and dairy from their diet during Lent) in Palestine can eat them.


vine leaves (you can miss the first step if you bought your leaves in a jar or packet)

8 chopped tomatoes

1 large bunch fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Cold water



  • Pile the leaves neatly one on top of another and put them in a large bowl or pan and cover with boiling water then let cool down until you can handle them. Cut the stems of as much as possible and set aside any leaves that have too many holes or are very torn.
  • In the meantime, mix the rice, 4 chopped tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil together thoroughly
  • Prepare the cooking pot, but laying the torn leaves at the bottom of the pan to cover it completely.
  • Arrange your work area so that you have a tea-towel in front of you with a wooden board on top of it to work on. Then have the rice mixture and prepared vine leaves so you can reach them and the cooking pan nearby.  Set up at the kitchen table or coffee table when you can sit while you work.
  • One vine leaf at a time, spread the leaf out on the wooden board and with your hand or a small spoon add some of the rice mixture in an oblong shape. How much you add will depend on how big your leaves are.
  • Then fold up the bottom shoulders on either side, fold in the ends, then roll up until the tip disappears and squeeze out any excess liquid.
  • As you roll each leaf, tessellate them into the pan one layer at a time.
  • If you finish the vines leaves and still have rice mix left over you can core a tomato or an aubergine or courgette and fill with the mixture.
  • Once done, add the chopped tomatoes on top of all the rolled vine leaves and some olive oil. Put a small side plate on top of the rolled leaves to weight them down and then add enough cold water to cover the rolled leaves.
  • Put over a high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and boil for about an hour ensuring that there is still water in the pan.  If the water goes before an hour of boiling keep adding small amounts until you get to an hour and then boil off all water completely.
  • Serve hot or cold with yoghurt.


One thought on “Lent (vegetarian) Warak Dawali

  1. Pingback: Warak Dawali | The Olive Tree Kitchen

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