Dolma and Sarma recipes

Dolma is among the most popular Mediterranean dishes. Greeks, Sicilians, Maltese, Lebanese, Egyptians and the Cypriots would all argue that the recipe is theirs in origin however in reality, just like habits, life styles and all other common features shared among the people of the Mediterranean, this delicious dish is a combination of flavours from different parts of the region and belongs to the whole region. However the names dolma and sarma are definitely Turkish. The literal translation or word to word meaning of Dolma is “filling” and sarma is “wrapping” in Turkish language. We don’t want to upset our dear friends but the Greek word for the same dish “dolmades” is most likely a mispronunciation of the original word “dolma”.

Turks cook dolma in more than a hundred ways; they would use cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, zucchinis, capsicums, artichokes and fill them with bulgur, pilaf, rice, meat, vegetables and more. As every region differs in climate and availability of certain vegetables, each region would have a special dolma or sarma of their own. However the most popular and known dish of all is, when the rice is wrapped in beautiful grape leaves (vine leaves) which can also be called “yaprak sarma“. Below is a traditional sarma recipe which can be adapted to be used as a dolma recipe using vegetables:

  • 1 kg grape leaves
  • 1 and 1/2 cups rice
  • 2 medium tomato peeled and petite diced
  • finely chopped parsley
  • 1 big onion or 2 small ones
  • 2 cloves garlic

Ingredients for the Spices:

  • 1-2 table spoon salt
  • 1 table spoon black pepper
  • 1 table spoon dried mint
  • 1/3 table spoon cumin
  • 1 table spoon pepper paste
  • 1 table spoon tomato paste
  • 3 table spoon olive oil
  • 2 cups hot water
Wash the rice and drain, put them in a bowl. Add spices, olive oil, tomato and pepper paste. Add the vegetables, peeled and finely diced tomato, onion, garlic, parsley, one by one. Mix them all with the help of a big spoon.

After you make sure they mixed well, use a teaspoon to put some of this mix on to a grape leaf. Bend both side of leaf over the mixture and roll it. Do the same things until you finish all the leaves.

Put the stuffed leaves in to a deep pan and pour 2 cups of hot water on it slowly. Cook it for 35 to 40 minutes.

If you like your ‘sarma’ a bit more tangy, you can add 2 or 3 tbs olive oil and 1 lemon juice to the hot water before you pour it over stuffed leaves. This will make them both delicious and soft.

You can use the same recipe for making dolmas simply by replacing vine leaves with vegetables such as cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, zucchinis, capsicums, artichokes.

Afiyet olsun !