Let's make Turkish stuffed vine leaves: sarma! Made with rice and Mediterranean herbs, this authentic recipe is as therapeutic to make as it is delicious—so much better than canned. Accidentally gluten-free and allergen-friendly.
Sarma is a quintessential recipe in the Aegean region, on both the Greek and Turkish sides. As with many other classic recipes, it was likely born out of necessity. Grape is grown all over the area, so it was only logical to put its vine leaves to good use.
This is our family's recipe that passed down from generation to generation, made at least a few times a month during summer. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Ingredients for Stuffed Vine Leaves
For Wrapping & Cooking
- 40 fresh vine leaves
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
For the Filling:
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 onions
- ⅔ cup rice
- ½ bunch parsley
- ½ bunch dill
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Plant-based yogurt on the side highly recommended!
How to Make Turkish Sarma (Greek Dolmades)
- Start by preparing the stuffing. Soak the rice in warm water for at least 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide saucepan then add the grated onions. Sautee until slightly caramelized.
- Add the rest of the ingredients for the filling, including the hot water, into the saucepan, and cook for another 5 minutes. Let the filling cool.
- While the filling is cooling off, prepare the vine leaves. If using fresh leaves, put them in hot water for 5 minutes to soften. If using preserved leaves, wash them multiple times to decrease their salt content before putting in hot water.
- When the filling is cool enough to handle, you may start assembling. Place each leaf with veins facing up on a level surface, then put a heaping teaspoon of the filling on the bottom half.
- Start by folding from the bottom, then fold each side inwards and roll up tightly into a cigarette shape (not too thick like a cigar). See the rolling guide photo for clarification.
- In a wide saucepan, place a few vine leaves at the bottom to line the surface to prevent our dolmas from burning.
- Place all dolmas in the saucepan, seams facing down, then add the olive oil and water. Weigh down with a plate and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, then cook for another 40 minutes. I'd recommend tasting one sarma to check before turning off the heat.
- Rest for 10 minutes before serving. It can be served warm or cold and pairs wonderfully with vegan yogurt.
- You may store dolmas in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator. However, they do not freeze very well.
- Do not cook rice all the way before assembling, this results in a mushy, offputting texture.
- Depending on the depth of your saucepan, you may need more or less water to cover the surface. You want all the dolmas to be covered with the water/oil mixture.
This Stuffed Vine Leaves Recipe is:
- & therapeutic to make!
Looking for other quintessential Aegean recipes? Try:
- spanakopita (spinach pie)
- vegan fava bean puree with dill
- mediterranean vegetable stew: türlü
- zucchini fritters
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you make sarma! Afiyet olsun (bon appetite)!Print