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How To Make Sarma (Recipe Guide) Tips And Calories

How To Make Sarma (Recipe Guide) Tips And Calories

Out full guide on How To Make Sarma one of the most popular dishes in the Balkans.

Sarma is a traditional dish in many Balkan and Eastern European countries, consisting of cabbage leaves stuffed with a flavorful meat and rice filling. It’s often served during festive occasions and family gatherings. Here’s a detailed recipe guide for making Sarma, along with tips and calorie information.

Read here how to make Cevapi


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How to Make Sarma

Sarma Recipe Ingredients

How To Make Sarma (Recipe Guide) Tips And Calories

For the Filling:

1 lb (450g) ground beef or a mix of ground beef and pork
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg (optional, helps bind the filling)
For the Cabbage Rolls:

1 large head of pickled cabbage (sauerkraut) or fresh cabbage
4 cups chicken or beef broth
1-2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the Sauce:

1 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

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Step By Step How to Make Sarma

Prepare the Cabbage

If using a pickled cabbage head, carefully separate the leaves and rinse them under cold water to reduce the sourness.
If using fresh cabbage, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Core the cabbage and blanch it in boiling water for about 10 minutes to soften the leaves. Carefully separate the leaves.

Prepare the Filling

In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, uncooked rice, chopped onion, minced garlic, paprika, ground black pepper, salt, parsley, and egg (if using). Mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

How To Make Sarma (Recipe Guide) Tips And Calories

Stuff the Cabbage Leaves

Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling and roll it up tightly from the stem end.

Assemble the Sarma

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add a few cabbage leaves to the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. Place the stuffed cabbage rolls seam-side down in the pot, arranging them in layers. Add the bay leaves between the layers.

Prepare the Sauce

In a bowl, mix the tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the cabbage rolls.

How To Make Sarma (Recipe Guide) Tips And Calories

Cook the Sarma

Pour enough broth over the cabbage rolls to cover them completely. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer gently for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the cabbage is tender and the filling is cooked through. Check occasionally and add more broth if needed.


Remove the bay leaves and serve the Sarma hot, along with some of the cooking liquid. Sarma pairs well with mashed potatoes, crusty bread, or a dollop of sour cream.

Tips To Make Sarma

Pickled cabbage gives Sarma a traditional tangy flavor, but if you can’t find it, fresh cabbage works well too. Adding an egg to the filling helps bind the ingredients together, making the rolls easier to handle.

Using a few cabbage leaves at the bottom of the pot helps prevent the Sarma from burning or sticking. For a richer flavor, you can add a few slices of smoked bacon or ham hock to the pot while cooking.

How Many Calories Have Sarma

Ground Meat (1 lb): 800 calories
Uncooked Rice (1/2 cup): 100 calories
Onion (1 large): 60 calories
Garlic (2 cloves): 10 calories
Pickled Cabbage (1 head): 100 calories
Tomato Sauce (1 cup): 80 calories
Tomato Paste (2 tablespoons): 30 calories
Vegetable Oil (3 tablespoons total): 360 calories
Egg (1, optional): 70 calories
Total Calories for the Batch: Approximately 1,610 calories (without egg) to 1,680 calories (with egg)

Calories per Serving: Approximately 160-170 calories per serving

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