Region or stateMiddle East, South Caucasus, Balkans, and Central Asia
Serving temperatureRoom temperature or hot
Main ingredientsGrape leaf, rice
VariationsWith cabbage leaves, mince meat and bulgur filling (served hot)

Sarma, commonly marketed as stuffed grape leaves, is a type of dolma—a stuffed dish of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire from the Middle East to Southeastern Europe—comprising fermented cabbage leaves, patencia dock, collard, grapevine, kale or chard leaves rolled around a filling of grains (like bulgur or rice), minced meat, or both.

Terminology and etymology

Sarma is a Turkish word meaning 'wrapped'.[1]

Sarma made with grape leaves are called yaprak sarması (lit.'leaf sarma') or yaprak dolması (lit.'leaf dolma') in Turkish, yarpaq dolması (lit.'leaf dolma') in Azerbaijani,[2] and dolme barg-e mo (دلمه برگ مو, lit.'vine leaf dolma') in Persian and waraq 'inab (ورق عنب) or waraq dawālī (ورق دوالي) in Arabic. In Armenian, they are called մսով տերեւափաթաթ (missov derevapatat), տերեւի տոլմա (derevi dolma) and տերեւի սարմա (derevi sarma). [3] In Greek they are generally called ντολμάδες (dolmadhes) but may also be known as γιαπράκια (yaprakia), γιαπράκια γιαλαντζί (yaprakia yalandzi), ντολμαδάκια (dolmadhakia), ντολμαδάκια γιαλαντζί (dolmadhakia yalandzi), σαρμάδες (sarmadhes), or σαρμαδάκια (sarmadhakia).[3]

In Bulgarian, Macedonian and Romanian, cabbage and grapevine leaves are not usually differentiated.[3]

Stuffed chard leaves are called pazı dolması in Turkey[4] and dolmas de pazi by Sephardi Jews who settled in Argentina.[5]


A grapevine leaf roll is a dish consisting of cooked grape-vine leaves wrapped around a variety of fillings. Stuffed vine leaves without meat are sometimes called yalancı dolma, which means "liar's dolma" in Turkish.[6] Vişneli yalancı dolması is a variation of stuffed vine leaves where the rice is seasoned with cinnamon, allspice and mint. The dolmas are slowly cooked together with morello cherries (vişne), and plums may be used also.[7]

Vine leaves may also be used to wrap stuffed celery root. Before wrapping, the celery root is stuffed with rice that has been seasoned with cinnamon, salt, pepper, allspice, pine nuts and sugar. (This type of rice is called iç pilav.) Dried fruits like fig and apricot may be added to the rice mixture before the celery root is stuffed, wrapped and baked in the oven.[8] Some variations may include quince.[9]

Regional and national variants

Amasya and Tokat, Turkey

In the Turkish provinces of Amasya and Tokat, sarma is prepared in a style similar to maklouba, with different fillings. One version made with fava beans is called bakla sarma. The filling for this variant from Amasya is made with dried fava beans and a coarsely ground wheat called yarma cooked in a seasoned tomato sauce. The wrapped sarma are layered over bone-in lamb chops and simmered slowly in the cooking liquid. The finished dish is served upside down.[10] A similar variation from Tokat is stuffed with a lentil, bulgur and chickpea filling. Homemade red pepper paste may be substituted for some of the tomato paste.[11]

Romania and Moldova

In Romania and Moldova, sarmale is popular in all historical regions, Moldavia, Transylvania, and Wallachia. It usually consists of minced pork, rice, onion, eggs, thyme and dill rolled in a leaf, usually a cabbage leaf. The baking dish is lined with chopped cabbage and sauerkraut layered with bacon or pork belly and the cabbage rolls, then topped with more sauerkraut and dill sprigs. The cooking water is poured over the assembled tray, a mixture of sauerkraut juice and seasonings. It is typically accompanied by mămăligă (polenta) and smântână (sour cream). It's a traditional dish to be served for Easter and Christmas meals.[12]


In Serbia a vegetarian version of stuffed cabbage rolls is one of the dishes that can be eaten during the observance of Lent.[13]


Drob sarma
Drob sarma

In Bulgaria, drob sarma is a dish with finely chopped offal (liver and lung) with rice, browned onions and herbs, wrapped in fat net and baked. Also exist another version of drob sarma: the rice filling is placed in a baking sheet, covered with a fat net and sent to the oven. After a while, it is poured with a mixture of eggs and sour milk and baked again.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Engin Akin, Essential Turkish Cuisine, 2015, ISBN 9781617691720, s.v. "Dolma and Sarma"
  2. ^ "Yarpaq dolması". (in Azerbaijani). Archived from the original on June 25, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Mladenova, Olga (1998). Grapes and Wine in the Balkans: An Ethno-linguistic Study. ISBN 9783447040372.
  4. ^ Migros Türkiye. Üçgen Pazı Dolması. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  5. ^ Diner, Hasia R.; Cinotto, Simone (2018). Global Jewish Foodways: A History. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-1-4962-0609-1.
  6. ^ Marks, Gil (2010-11-17). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. HMH. ISBN 978-0-544-18631-6.
  7. ^ "Vişneli Yaprak Sarma tarifi - Haber - Mutfağım". Kanal D. Archived from the original on 2014-01-18. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  8. ^ "Zeytinyağlı, Kuru Meyveli Kereviz Dolması". Sabah. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  9. ^ Nursel'in Evi. Ayvalı Kereviz Dolması Tarifi. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  10. ^ Show TVundefined (Director). Nursel'in Mutfağı - Baklalı Dolma Tarifi / 25 Şubat. Event occurs at 738 seconds. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  11. ^ "Mercimekli Yaprak Sarma tarifi (Tokat) - Haber - Mutfağım". Kanal D. Archived from the original on 2014-04-11. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  12. ^ "Romanian Stuffed Cabbage (Sarmale)".
  13. ^ "Serbian Recipes for Orthodox Lent".
  14. ^ Bulgarian Drob Sarma