1 (16 pz) jar grape leaves, drained
1 lemon, sliced
3 tbsp currants
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried dill (or 2 tbsp fresh)
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp dried mint
1 small onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and black pepper, to taste
To make the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onions until partly soft, about 2 minutes. Add pine nuts and cook them about two minutes, until they are golden brown (watch that they don’t burn). Add the rice and give it a good stir. Now add the currants, sugar, cinnamon, tomato paste, and 2 cups hot water. Then put the mint, dill, and parsley. Stir the mixture, cover the pot, and turn off the heat. Do not remove the lid for 20 minutes, at which point the rice should have absorbed the water. Let the stuffing cool 30-40 minutes. When it has cooled, add a small amount of salt and black pepper.
To prepare the grape leaves, bring 2 quarts water to a boil, unroll the grape leaves, and place them in the boiling water for 2 minutes to soften the leaves and rid them of the brind. Using a slotted spoon, remove the leaves from the water and drape them over the edge of a colander to drain. With a sharp knife, cut out the small protruding stem from each leaf. Set the grape leaves aside.
To stuff: Put a grape leaf on a plate vein side up, and with the notche where you removed the stem closest to you, place one tablespoon of stuffing at the end of the leaf in a line about the size of a baby pre-peeled carrot. Fold the end nearest you over the filling, then fold both sides of the leaf over the filling. Roll up the leaves but not too tightly, because they could burst.
Line the bottom of a heavy saucepan with grape leaves. Place sarma parallel to each other in the bottom of the pan. Pour one cup of water into the pan. Line the top with lemon slices and weigh down with a heavy plate (one small enough to fit inside the pot). Cover the pot and on the stovetop over medium heat bring the liquid to a boil (about 5 minutes). Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the sarmas are tender and the water has been absorbed.
Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate. Serve chilled. Garnish with lemon wedges, tomatoes, and chopped parsley.