If you’ve ever felt daunted by the idea of making Turkish rice-based dishes, start with biberdolması. Oven-baked stuffed pepper is a forgiving dish with tasty rewards. The rice is cooked in two steps and absorbs the accompanying flavours allowing you to forget any worries about under or overcooking the grains.

Often served as a meze or side dish, Zeytinyağlıbiberdolması also works very well as a main dish along with side salad on a summers evening.

Packed with Turkish Mediterranean flavours, this vegetarian stuffed peppers recipe use a little fresh Reyhan- spicy basil and rosemary (dried can be substituted) along with fragrant and colourful spices including paprika, allspice and turmeric.

For fans of fiery flavours, hot salça should be used but sweet pepper paste complements the flavours very well for those who avoid spicy foods.

Can be served hot or chilled but for ultimate taste, leave to rest for an hour before serving with alongside with thick garlic-infused yoghurt


4 * 6 Medium-Large Bell ‘Dolmalık’ peppers

185 / (1 ‘Su’ glass) Short grain rice*

200/ (1 ‘Su’ glass)Water

2 Medium Onions, chopped fine

65ml / (1/2 ‘Çay’ glass)Olive oil

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 TeaspoonSalt

1/4 Teaspoon Allspice

1/4 Teaspoon Black pepper

1 Teaspoon Honey

For oven baking

50ml / (1/2 ‘Su’ glass) Water

1 Tablespoon Pepper paste (or tomato)

For dressing

1 Tablespoon Olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Pulbiber / Aleppo pepper flakes

Wash the rice until the water runs clear, drain and set aside.

Wash the peppers. Using a knife carefully cut into the top of the pepper creating a circle around the stalk.

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.

Retain the pepper tops to use as lids later, or if preferred save some tomato bottoms to use as covers.

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces, these can be peeled if preferred but it’s not necessary to do so.

In a medium saucepan, use the oil to soften the onions, frying them until they become silky and translucent.

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.

Add tomatoes, spices and garlic (if using) to the saucepan and mix in the honey and one glass (200mls) of water.

Bring the saucepan to a boil, cover and place on simmer.

Cook for around 15 minutes or until the water has been completely absorbed

Remove from the heat and add in the chopped fresh herbs and pine nuts.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

Spoon the rice filling into the cavity of the peppers and place the tops on to cover.

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.

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.

Cover with the lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for 1 hour, setting a timer for 30 minutes.

After the first 30 minutes, remove the lid/foil and cook for the second half uncovered.

Can be served immediately, cooled or chilled.

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