When my husband and I moved into our house 5 years ago my mother took me out to her garden and using a blunt kitchen knife she pulled and chopped at a few wooded vines on her grape until a few came loose. She told me to get them into the ground in my new garden before the earth turned cold. It was mid-October so I was certain it would be too late, but she told me to sit on the earth in my garden and if it wasn’t so cold that I needed to get back up quickly then it was warm enough to plant. This is an old trick that my mother swears her mother and grandmother both used. Of course I didn’t sit on the floor, but I did stick the twigs in the ground without much thought or hope and to my surprise the following spring we had new green growth on them. This year we have had a bumper crop of grape leaves and I am so incredibly happy! We have been eating nothing but vine leaves so far this summer.
If you are going to use vine leaves from your own garden, you want to pick them while they are as big as they can be before they start hardening up. if you don’t have your own vine, then you can buy them from Arab grocers online.
for the Kofta
500g minced beef
large handful of fresh parsley
1 red chilli
2 tsp salt
2tsp mixed spice
rest of the dish
12 large (or 24 small) vine leaves
4 large on-vine tomatoes
preheat the oven to 190c
ensure the entire stem is removed from each vine leaf and then- one of top of the other in a pile- place into a saucepan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes then remove.
put all the kofta ingredients into a food processor and blitz together until a firm beef dough is achieved. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the veg and knead into the meat. Work the meat until a nice homogenous consistency is achieved that sticks together.
Divide the meat into 10-12 kofta patties and wrap in your leaves, one or two at a time, depending on the size of your leaves. Arrange onto an oiled baking dish.
Thickly slice the remaining tomatoes and place one slice on top of each vine-wrapped kofta. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Serve with Palestinian chips or rice, Salata Arabia and Shatta Sauce.