How to make perfect sarma?
How to make perfect sarma?

In Eastern Europe, it’s impossible to imagine winter without sarma. Sarma is a traditional dish, that has its origins in Turkey, but is well known and popular all over the region.

Basically, sarma, a traditional dish from Balcan, is made by wrapping minced meat filling, bending it, in a sauerkraut leaf. Hence the name of this dish – “sarmak” in Turkish means to bend. It is interesting that the Turks themselves use the word sarma for two sweets, similar to baklava – saraj sarma and fistic sarma. So if you are planning to go to Turkey, be careful what you order.

Every other ingredient that can be added to sarma is a matter of personal taste and immediate inspiration. All additions can make this rich salty dish even tastier, but sarma doesn’t lack taste even with a basic recipe. Variations in the taste of sarma come only from what you add to these basic ingredients.

When making sarma saltiness is one of the most important things, as the sauerkraut tends to be really salty, so that the dish is neither too salty nor, it seems to me even worse, tasteless.

How to get the perfect taste of sarma?

First, pay attention to the sauerkraut that you will use to wrap the sarma. Depending on the manufacturer, sauerkraut differs in both its acidity and salinity. Try it, evaluate how salty and sour it is. It is best when the leaves are prepared in a way to retain a moderate taste of sour and salty. Depending on how sour the cabbage is, it also depends on whether you will salt the filling later and how much you will salt it. 

If you’re adding dry bacon to sarma filling, count on the addition of salt that comes with dry steamed bacon. Sarma must have both – sourness and saltiness, so it is not good when it is tasteless when it has that washed out taste. It may be better to make a mistake in favor of salt, because this can be corrected by adding whole boiled potatoes served with salted sarma, or mashed mild-tasting potatoes.

How to make sarma?

You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 kg of minced meat (you can take, to taste pure beef, pork, or mixed minced meat in a proportion 50:50% or proportion that you prefer)
  • 1 cup rice
  • A little dry meat: dry ribs, dry bones, bacon…
  • 1-2 onions
  • A little ground pepper
  • Seasoning for salting as needed
  • 2 heads of sauerkraut


If you’re using dry meat, boil it for a bit, to remove the excessively salty taste. 

Separate the sauerkraut leaves and wash each one under running water over the sink. If the sauerkraut is very sour, then you can wash its leaves. Remove the thickening from each leaf with a thinner and sharp knife. Leaves are prepared.

Pour a cup of rice into a bowl and wash it well. Set it aside until you need it.

Chop the onion and sauté it until it becomes shiny, soft, glassy. If you want to add bacon to the filling, add it right at the beginning. Minced meat, by choice, add to pre-cooked ingredients. Stir the filling constantly with a food processor so that the meat does not clump.

fTry sarma once and you’ll prepare it again! (

You will know that you have fried the meat enough when it becomes quite loose. When you get a nice brown color of meat and when it releases a lot of its juices, add the washed rice you prepared earlier. Add a little salting seasoning and ground peppers. Mix everything well, turn off the stove. Put the filling you have prepared and the cabbage leaves in front of you

to be convenient and everything at your fingertips. 

Take one spoon, bring one larger plate and start bending the sarma. Put a nice, healthy leaf on the palm of your hand, put two tablespoons of filling in the center. bend one side of the sheet over the filling and the other side as well,  and on the palm, from the root of the leaf to the top, you bend the sarma. Stack the bent sarma on a large plate until all of them are bent.

Then, in the dish from which you picked up all the sarma filling, on its bottom, you put cabbage leaves and then bent sarmas. Put dried meat over the first row, so you cover it all with the remaining sarma. Pour enough water so that the amount of water can be seen through the sarma, but do not soak them in water.

Cover, reduce the temperature to a minimum, and let sarma simmer for the next at least two and a half hours.