Turkish Cuisine - Stuffed Vine Leaves

Sarma – Stuffed Vine Leaves

Sarma refers to a dish that can be prepared with grape, cabbage, or chard leaves. The term sarma derives from the Turkish verb “sarmak,” which means to wrap or to roll. It can be prepared with rice and spices (vegetarian) or with rice and ground meat.


  • 1lb pickled grape leaves, pickled in brine then washed and drained
  • 4 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cups rice, washed under cold water and drained
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup dried currant
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint flakes
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of


Step 1: Dice the onions and sauté with 1/4 cup of olive oil. When they turn translucent, add the pine nuts and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add rice and stir constantly for 5-10 minutes until the rice is translucent. Add the spices (dried mint, cinnamon, lemon salt, black pepper, dried currants, sugar and allspice) and chopped parsley. After another quick stir, add 1/2 cup of boiling water and simmer on low medium heat for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice mixture. Take off heat and let cool.

How to roll vine leaves – a fun experience

Step 2: Place the vine leaf on a flat surface with the veins face up and remove the stem. Place 1 tsp of the rice filling at the bottom were the stem was. Fold the edges over the filling and then roll from the bottom up wrapping the rice. Repeat the process until you have used up all the rice mixture. Cover the bottom of a saucepan with the broken and ripped vine leaves. About 3-4 layers deep. Place the sarma in the pot seam down ensuring there are no gaps so that they don’t unravel during the cooking process. Then lay down another 3-4 layers of ripped vine leaves. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, juice of half a lemon and 2 cups of boiling water, cover with a plate upside down (so that the sarmas don’t move around in boiling water) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until all the water is absorbed (roughly 45-60 minutes). Transfer to your serving dish and let cool.