Sogan-dolma – Stuffed Onions

Sogan-dolma, which means stuffed onions in Turkish (soğan dolması), is a traditional Bosnian dish, considered the specialty of Mostar. Ingredients include onions, minced beef, rice, oil, tomato purée, paprika, vinegar or sour cream, strained yoghurt (locally known as Kiselo Mlijeko, literally sour milk), black pepper, salt and spices.

General Preparation

The skin being removed, the larger, external, layers (leaves) of onion bulbs are used as containers, so called “shirts” (Old Turk. “dolama(n)” for a special kind of Ottoman robe) for the meat stuffing. The remaining part of onion is also used, mixed with the meat and fried on oil for a couple of minutes, to obtain the base of the stuffing. To extract the separate “shirts”, the entire bulbs are cut on the top and then boiled until soft enough to be pried off, layer by layer. In order to prevent a further softening and crumbling, the bulbs should be blanched. The “shirts” are removed from the bulbs by slow and gentle finger pressure. Filled “shirts” (“dolme”) are boiled slowly at a low heat in broth. The level of liquid should be sufficient to cover the dolmas entirely. Sogan-dolma are usually served with dense natural yoghurt.

Sogan-dolma - Stuffed Onions
  • 5-6 large white onions, peeled, ends discarded
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 400 g beef mince
  • 150 g uncooked rice
  • ¾ cup water, approx
  • oil, for frying
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
For the sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons paprika, to taste
  • 200 ml tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Place the whole peeled onions in a large saucepan, cover with water and vinegar. Cook until soft but not falling apart, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the onions from the water, drain, then separate each into rings - be careful not to break them. Set aside the larger rings and finely chop the smaller inside rings.
  3. Add a small amount of oil to a frying pan and bring to a moderate heat. Add the chopped onion, beef mince and salt and pepper to taste. Stir continuously for a few minutes until the mince starts to brown.
  4. Add the rice and water to the browned mince. Stir to combine and bring back to the boil. ( Add the water slowly to ensure that the mixture will still bind when you stuff the onion rings) Remove from the heat and, using two spoons, fill the onion rings with the stuffing mix.
  5. Arrange the stuffed onions in the pan in which you will bake them . Preheat the oven to 200°C.

For the sauce
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, and flour and stir to make a paste and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the paprika and tomato puree; stir.
  3. Slowly add water, stirring, until the desired thickness of the sauce is reached. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. When sauce boils, stir in the sour cream and remove from heat. Pour over stuffed onion.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°C.


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