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Sarmale - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Updated: Dec 25, 2020

A delicious combination of meat, rice and spices, wrapped in flavorful marinated cabbage leaves for a mouth-watering experience.

With origins going back all the way to the Ottoman Empire, these culinary wonders are the long lasting conqueror of this story - from Europe and Africa and all the way to the Middle East.

The word "sarma" is the Turkish noun describing this dish, while "sarmale" is the Romanian way to say the same thing. Interestingly enough, while Turks have another word for vine leaves stuffed rolls ("dolma"), Romanians also call these "sarmale" and add to their name "stuffed in vine leaves".

Since this is a dish that I've been enjoying ever since I was a child - especially at special occasions and during the holidays, it didn't feel right to change the recipe we've been making for so long. This means that the recipe presented here will be the Romanian recipe for sarmale. One significant difference from the Turkish sarma is that sarmale are often prepared with pork, while sarma uses lamb and beef instead.

To get closer to the Turkish experience, we served this dish with ayran.

Ayran is a mixture of yogurt, water and salt. We had this drink while in Instanbul. The drink is so popular there that when we asked a vendor "What is ayran?" he replied with "It's ayran!" You can buy this beverage in an ethnic store or easily make it at home. We posted a tentative recipe in our Week 41 Pinterest board.

This recipe is part of the 2020 - Week 41 Menu - Turkish Recipes and 2020 - Week 52 - Christmas Menu. Look under Menus for the other recipes of the series or Subscribe to our mailing list and receive complete weekly menu ideas with everything from the grocery shopping list to all standardized recipes in a menu, as well as an organized Order of Cooking list to save you time in the kitchen.

Download the standardized recipe here:

Sarmale - Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
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