Sarma - Bosnian Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

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“There are different versions of this recipe from all over the Balkans. You may be able to get sour cabbage from an Eastern European market; if not, you can boil the cabbage heads until soft enough to work with (the dish will taste slightly different - maybe add some vinegar to the broth). It is a very filling dish! Don't worry about leftovers, they taste just fine reheated (use the stove, not the microwave)!”
3hrs 30mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 lbs sour cabbage leaves (or one large head)
  • 10 ounces ground veal (beef or lamb may be used if you prefer)
  • 13 cup rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • salt and pepper
  • paprika
  • beef stock or water
  • butter and sour cream, to serve


  1. Separate the cabbage leaves, being careful not to tear them.
  2. Mix meat, rice, onion, salt, pepper, and paprika.
  3. Place about a tablespoon or more (use your own judgment based on the size of the leaves) of the meat mixture into each cabbage leaf, near its base.
  4. Begin rolling the leaf from the base into a thick cylinder, tucking in the sides after the first "roll."
  5. Layer the cylinders tightly into a medium-sized or large pot.
  6. Cover the sarma with beef stock or water (I find that if you use water, it makes its own broth anyways with the meat as it cooks).
  7. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for at least three hours.
  8. Serve with butter and sour cream, with or without some of the cooking liquids according to your preference.
  9. *Boiled potatoes are often eaten with sarma, and they go quite well together.

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