Recipe: Romanian "Sarmale"

Meat rolls in cabbage leaves

Christmas is approaching fast. I will spend it back home in Romania and I was already promised that this delightful dish will be waiting for me when I arrive. It’s a tradition.

If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, read further to see how to prepare this lovely meal.


  • 2 medium cabbages,
  • 800g minced meat,
  • 50g smoked sausage,
  • 200g rice,
  • 1 onion,
  • dill,
  • bean tressel, also called thyme (Satureia hortensis),
  • 1 tbsp. Vegeta,
  • 1 tsp. salt,
  • 1 tsp. pepper,
  • 1 tbsp. paprika,
  • 1 tsp. oil.

Makes about 20 cabbage rolls.


In lack of sour cabbage which should be used, I use fresh cabbage but place it first in hot boiling water to peal the leaves easier.


Mix the minced meat with rice, pepper, vegeta and the chopped onion previously fried with paprika.


Peal down the larger cabbage leaves and cut out the stalk from the leaves. Chop the remaining cabbage in stripes.


Add one tbsp. of meat on the stalk side of cabbage leave. Roll till half, fold both sides & roll till the end.


So now you have the cabbage rolls, chopped cabbage, sausage and a bundle of aromatic plants (dill and thyme).


Fill the pot with alternating layers of chopped cabbage & cabbage rolls. Top it with sausage, chopped cabbage & aromatic plants bundle.


Cooking time:

  • Two hours, sour cabbage cooked in a normal pot;
  • One hour, sour cabbage cooked in a pressure cooker;
  • One hour, fresh cabbage cooked in a pressure cooker;

Do not cook the fresh cabbage in a pressure cooker because it will get too tender.

Serve it with sour cream. Enjoy!


One thought on “Recipe: Romanian "Sarmale"

Comments are closed.