Think of this filling like a pilaf that can be varied in all kinds of ways. Try bulghur instead of rice, or add other herbs like cilantro or mint. Toasted pine nuts are wonderful too. Chopped tomatoes and tomato paste can be added to the cooking water as well. The recipe is for a batch based on the number of leaves typically in a jar. You can of course make fewer or more! Watch how to roll grapeleaves in my video here.
If using fresh leaves, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes to soften, or blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes if the leaves seem tough. If using jarred leaves, rinse the leaves thoroughly and soak in cool water for 15 minutes. Pat the leaves dry.
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and red bell pepper. Cook until softened, stirring frequently. Stir in the rice, chickpeas and tomato paste, and season with 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, cinnamon and cayenne. It will take a few minutes for the tomato paste to distribute while stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and cilantro. Taste the filling and adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside to cool enough to handle.
Prepare a large dutch oven by lining the bottom with grape leaves to protect the rolls from scorching.
Place grape leaves facing vein-side up on the work surface, with the wide stem-end of the leaf toward you. The amount of filling spooned onto each leaf will depend on the size of the leaf. Drop about a heaping teaspoon offilling across the stem edge of the leaf, leaving enough leaf on either side of the filling for rolling.
Fold each side of leaf over the filling like an envelope, hold those newly folded sides in place and lift that stem edge up over the filling, tucking the edge under the filling. If this is difficult, take away some of the filling. Roll the leaf tightly away from you, tucking the right and left edges under as you go. Keeping the roll tightly wound will help prevent it from unraveling while it cooks.
Arrange the rolls in tightly packed rows in the dutch oven as you roll, alternating the direction of each layer of rows. Tuck garlic cloves in here and there. Place a plate face down over the top layer to prevent the rolls from floating.
Pour broth or water over the rolls just to cover them. Add the juice of two lemons. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over top. Cover and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
Remove the cover from the pot from the heat. Take the plate off the rolls and let the rolls cool off. They will be much easier to remove from the pot once they have cooled off and firmed up.
Serve warm, or at room temperature.