Midye dolma or stuffed mussels with aromatic rice is a delicious treat! You will find them in street stalls in Istanbul, especially at Beyoglu district. With a good squeeze of lemon juice over the mussel, they are pure heaven.

Serves: 4-5 Preparation time: 20′ Cook in: 25′ Ready in: 45′

40 large black mussels, cleaned and bearded
1 large onion, finely chopped
⅔ cup short grain rice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
2 tbsp currants
⅔ tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp mint, dried
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cups fish or vegetable stock or water
lemon wedges to serve
salt, freshly ground black pepper


Step 1
Place mussels in a large bowl and rinse well. Scrub the shells clean and scrape off any dirt. Cut through the thick, round connecting muscle at the bottom of the mussel – pull firmly until it comes out and discard. Put the mussels in a pan with two glasses of water. Cover pan with lid and boil in low heat for no more of 4 minutes otherwise mussels will be like rubbers. Strain and keep the liquid if you like to use later for the rice. Throw away any mussels that remain closed. Using a blunt knife, carefully force the point of the knife into the gap at the pointy end of each mussel. Slice through the meat so the shell opens with half the meat attached to each half shell. Set aside.

Step 2
For the rice: Rinse rice under cold running water. Drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté onion over medium to high heat for 2 minutes. Stir in pine nuts and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the rice, currants, chopped tomato, parsley, mint, cinnamon, fish stock or the liquid where the mussels boiled and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Bring to the boil, then cover to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is “al dente”. Remove pan from heat and leave to cool.

Step 3
Stuff mussels with rice into the middle of each mussel (do not overfill) and push half shells together again. Serve on a big platter with lemon wedges by the side. Eat with your hands, using the top shell to scoop the mixture out of the bottom shell, with a generous squeeze of lemon over the mussel.

Photo Vangelis Paterakis – Food styling Antonia Kati