“Sarmale”, a Romanian dish 100%?

Maybe, maybe not. But with or without “mamaliga” (that’s polenta) or “smantana” (that’s “cream” in Romanian), sarmelele can be found in Romania, (in Bucovina and Moldova under the name of “găluci” or “găluște”) and have been spread around the world (e.g: Turkey, Poland, Italy, Croatia etc.) where this dish is a delight, adapted to the culture of each country.

  • Prep Time 40 min
  • Cook Time 4:0 hours
  • Score 9.5/10

The term sarma is borrowed from Turkish language – term sarmak, which means to wrap. Therefore, the name of the dish refers to the style of cooking – minced meat wrapped into pickled cabbage.

It’s history started thousand years ago, when people cooked into clay pots and discovered that meat can be wrapped into edible leaves. Nowadays, people reinvented the dish and adapted it into their culture and country values.
Because today is 1st of December, National Day in Romania, I found it suitable to make “sarmale”. And I am sharing my recipe with you.


  • Pickled cabbage
  • Minced meat – I used pork only but you can use a combination as well such as lamb+pork or beef+pork.
  • Rice
  • Tomato sauce
  • Broth
  • Garlic
  • Bay leaves
  • Salt, pepper
  • Oil (olive oil or any kind of oil)

Kitchen tools:

  • A big pot is all you need

How I did it:

Step 1

prep the meat

I went the classical, Romanian day.
As mentioned above, I chose the pork meat – and I strongly recommend to use pork meat because “sarmale” need fat in order to get juicy and tasty and pork meat will definitely do it.
If you have a mincer then you are a lucky one – and you can prepare yourself the minced meat. If you don’t, make sure that you buy a beautiful, good looking minced meat.
Chop garlic as small as possible and put some rice into a cup (of coffee)
Then get the minced meat into a bowl, add a cup of rice and mix. Add paprika powder, salt, pepper and add the chopped garlic too. Mix, mix and taste - Yes, I taste it, it’s mandatory to nail the seasoning from this point of the recipe or else…it will be too late.
Oh, if you fancy you can also add other vegetables but these need to be root – carrot, celery – well chopped.

Step 2

prepare the pickled cabbage


Once the meat is ready, let it rest. And start washing the cabbage and preparing the “coat” for the minced meat. I usually slice the pickled cabbage into (long) strips - that way I don’t risk to lose meat on the way while cooking.
Don’t forget to choose the strips that can be filled with meat and not the thin ones.
Once the strips of pickled cabbage are done, go back to the meat.

Step 3

get the minced meat into “sarmale shape”
When making sarmale, I know that you must add the exact amount of meat so that it is perfectly covered by the pickled cabbage at the edges.
The shape of sarmale gets when you roll the meat inside the cabbage – just take minced meat in hand (just as much as a small snow ball), add the meat inside the cabbage strips and keep rolling.


Step 4

cook the “sarmale”
I add olive oil into the pan, then a bed of few cabbage stripes on the bottom of the pot and afterwards I added sarmale one by one inside the pot, concentric.
And – pay attention - choose the pot wisely, it has to be taller and bigger so that the meat can cook well. Once you filled the pot, add water and tomato sauce on top and bay leaves.

Let them boil for 3 hours or so – I left them almost 4 hours.

Then enjoy with polenta and cream.:)


Raw spaghetti salad!

It’s raw, it’s veggie, it’s fast and yummy.