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The origin of Tolma (Dolma)

January 8, 2014


Azerbaijanis and Turks call this dish Dolma and consider it to be their national dish. For that they have even improved phonetic component of the name of the dish. According to the Azerbaijanis “dolma” in Azerbaijani means “to fill .” This refers to the ” stuffing anything.” But the fact is in the Azerbaijani language there is no verb Dolma – ” to fill, to stuff”, but the verb is pronounced as ” doldurmaq ,” and ending “ma” in Turkic languages and Azerbaijani language respectively, means the denial of something. So in Azerbaijani language Dolma or Doldurmaq means ” don’t fill up, do not stuff”. ” Example: Açmaq – open, açma – do not open, bahlamaq – close , bahlama – do not close , etc. Question: why to call a dish “not stuffed ” if it was originally stuffed ?

DSC02490This is the first proof of non-Azerbaijani origin of the dish. The second proof is, and most importantly, the fact that the Turks were nomadic people . History knows no examples of nomadic peoples to have national dishes using spices, herbs, vegetables. When do nomads plant that all and, moreover, plant vineyards? And proof of that is Turkics of Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Tuva , Altai, Yakutia, Chuvashia. These people do not have national cuisine where herbal products are used . Their cuisine is composed almost entirely of meat and dairy products. So how is it that 90 % of Turkic nations do not prepare Tolma, 70% of them haven’t heard about Tolma and only Turkic Turks and Turkic Azerbaijanis living in the vicinity of the Armenians call Tolma “dolma” and assign primacy of cooking this dish to themselves?

Another interesting fact: ” in Armenian language “cuisine” is ” “Khohanots” , ” which literally means ” the place to philosophize ,to create wisdom, to create idea. ” Notice how correct definition of the kitchen it is. Turkic peoples do not have a native word for ” kitchen.” In Azerbaijani language , for example , the kitchen will be “mətbəx” and it is borrowed from the sedentary Persians. In Persian cuisine is ” اشپزخانه. mətbəx.”
The word “knowledge, information” in Azerbaijanis sounds like “malumat” and it is also borrowed from the sedentary Persians.

imagesBut let’s get back to Tolma . Armenian name Tolma is associated with Toli (in Armenian a grape leave). Toli – as a grape leave was recorded in the  inscriptions of Van Kingdom (Urartian). Initially , in Grabar , before the Seljuk Turks ever tasted Tolma the dish was called Tolimis – “meat in grape leaf”. Over time , as often it happens with the Indo – European (IE) endings , and in particular in Armenian language , which saves on vowel sounds , Tolimis turned into Tolim , followed by Tolima , and finally Tolma . Let’s compare Russian, which is also an IE language , where people , thanking someone would say ” Spasi tebya Bog-God save you” , then ” Spasi Bog-God Save ” and finally now ” Spasibo – Thank you.”

All other kinds of Tolma cooked using other vegetables , arose much later , as modified version of Tolma .

PS: A question to azerbaijanis and turks: whose dish is “shakyar byura” , which is not only national , but also a festive dish in Azerbaijan? In fact, etymology of ” shyakyar byura ” is not Turkic. Shakyar – sugar in many Indo- European languages : shyakyar , shakar , sugar, etc. byura is sugar in Dari . And shyakyar and byura are words of Iranian origin. And shyakyar byura is prerpared throughout the Iranian speaking world.

Translated by the admin of the page  “Ararat- place of creation” (on FB ) from the video by Antitopor – Vadim Arutyunov, Orientalist


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  1. Excellent article. I’m going through a few of these
    issues as well..

  2. I quite like reading an article that can make men and women think.

    Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  3. Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the issues.
    It was definitely informative. Yoour site is extremely helpful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  4. beautiful piece of knowledge, thank-you for this .. helped in length on my write-up about an Armenian restro in town 🙂

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