Soulfood of Balkan: Sarma as a queen!

Serbian sarmaThere is a small number of meals which Balkans love as much as they love sarma. What is sarma, and what is so special about that cabbage in a relationship with meat and rice, Balkan Inside will tell you.

Origin of sarma:

Sarma is a meal which contains mostly cabbage or chard leaves rolled around a filling based on a mincemeat and rice with spices added. Its origin comes from cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire from the Middle East to the Balkans and Central Europe. Now its considered traditional meal for the whole Balkan.

Meaning of a word sarma:

Sarma means ‘a wrapped thing’ in the Turkish language, from the verb sarmak meaning ‘to wrap’ or ‘to roll’.


delicious sarma

Delicious sarma

Making of a sarma:

Mincemeat of various kinds, depending on your taste is combined with rice,  red onion small amount of white onion, an spices, as salt, pepper,  various local herbs. After making of this blend, you get to dose the batch which will be rolled into cabbage leaves. If you are not a fan of cabbage, you can also use chard, sorrel, vine leaf or broadleaf plantain leaves.  When you roll your little tasty sarma, arrange it into nice pot, and then boil it for several hours.

Interesting fact: In Dalmatia, part of Croatia, they have a special subtype known as arambašići (Turkish soldiers were called harambaše).  The stuffing of arambašići is consisting of diced meat must cat nuts, lemon and cloves. As you can see, no rice is allowed.

Trivia: In Novi Sad, Serbia, Zoltan Gali made 374 sarma and broke the Guiness world record. Weight of Zoltan’s sarma was 3080 ibs.

Ingredients of sarma and how to make it at your home:

2 heads of cabbage

1 kg minced meat

300 g of rice

150 g of dried meat

2 carrots

small onion


50 ml oil

1-tablespoon flour and 1-teaspoon tomato sauce

how to cook sarma

Steps for cooking sarma

First step: Clean and wash the rice in couple of different waters.  Finely chop the onion. Turn carrots into cubes.
Second step: In prepared bowl add meat, rice, onion and carrot, pepper, and a little mix of herbs with very little salt.
Third step: Separate the leaves of cabbage and then carefully remove the thick veins.

Fourth step: Put enough of prepared stuffing into every cleaned leaf.  Fold cabbage filling the left and right sides and roll.  Than arrange all te sarmas in a pot, stacked side by side. If you want even better taste,  put a little of dried meaton the bottom, and on the top of full pot.
Fifth step:  Boil water in another pot, and than pour it over prepared sarma. As soon as rolled cabbage boils, reduce the heat and leave it cooking for a two hours, minimum.



About Brankica Stojanović

Media director@ marketing agency Aquarius from Banjaluka. Involved in PR, writing and making other people smile. In love with social networks, books and music. Known as Krempitushka on Twitter. She believes in Santa claus, Little Prince and "they lived happily ever after" and plans to topple the Guinness record for the width of the smile. Greatest fan of love.

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