How to make Sarma – cabbage leaf parcels

This is batch cooking. Great for winter nights and   freezing. Give yourself a good few hours to do this.

Amounts are to your own taste – there is no measuring here.

You will need 1 very large pan -the kind with handles. They are usually enamel-coated or stainless steel. Here is a Griswold example:

This is to steam your WHOLE hard white cabbage in. So pop it in to a pan of water and bring to the boil. Add a drop of vinegar if you like. Gently simmer it on a low heat for about half an hour, then leave in the pan over night and the entire cabbage will soften.

The following day take out the whole cabbage and drain away the water. Cut the stalk  off and gently peel away each leaf from the bottom and layer the leaves on to a plate -go as far as seems sensible. Then in the same pan drizzle some olive oil and a splash of water. Chop up the remainder of the cabbage and place in the bottom. This will act as a safety layer and stop the parcels burning during their slow long cook.

The Stuffing:

1 large onion

6 garlic cloves

Vegetable stock or better still Vegeta


Arborio rice

Turkey or pork mince – not beef

If vegetarian/vegan just use mushrooms/lentils

In another pan, chop all your onion and garlic and lightly fry in olive oil, add the stock and finely chopped carrots and mince and stir til browned through, Add the rice and some water and bring to boil and simmer for a while til the rice and meat is done. Dot in some tomato puree and paprika – preferably Hungarian and not Spanish

Take each cabbage leaf and cut out the tough stalky bit. Spoon some stuffing on to the leaf and wrap. You’ll get the hang of it as you go.  Keep on going til all parcels are made.

Lay them in the big pan on top of the chopped cabbage. Add some water, paprika and tomato puree. Bring to the boil and simmer on very low for around 2 to 3 hours.

Serve with Polish rye bread. The parcels will last 3 to 4 days or freeze if you’ve had enough. You can also add sauerkraut in to the pot and smoked sausage if you want!

This dish is sometimes served prior to a main course at a winter slava or a big get-together.

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