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Baba’s Vegan Sarmi (Posni Sarmi)

Shared by: Baba Tala
Recipe origin: Rotino, Macedonia

My grandmother is a sensational cook! Although almost eighty, she still loves preparing handmade pastries, sweets and stews. Thankfully, she also loves teaching me all her traditional recipes to post here on Village Feast! I often show her the recipes online, she has a little chuckle and can’t believe that people are interested in her village recipes…I remind her that people from as far away as the U.S. are enjoying maznik, mlechnik and kifli…deep down I think she loves the attention and thinks she’s a little famous!

Like all of baba’s tasty recipes, her vegan cabbage rolls are no exception! I love them so much that I prefer them over meat sarmi. They’re super quick and super tasty! I make them with homemade pickled cabbage leaves, however pickled cabbage bought from the supermarket will also do the trick.

Enjoy these sarmi at room temperature or cold, served as a light lunch or meze.

Making sarmi


Serves 6

1 cup (220g) medium grain white rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1 garlic clove, finely grated

10-15 large pickled cabbage leaves, cut in half

Thickening sauce (zaprshka)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
Sea salt

1) In a bowl combine rice, olive oil, paprika, mint, garlic and mix well.

2) In a small to medium heavy based pot, place 2-3 cabbage leaves on the base. If the cabbage leaves are overly sour, soak in water for up to 30 minutes. Drain cabbage leaves in a colander over large bowl. Place a cabbage leaf in the palm of your hand with the thickest part closest to you, spoon 2-3 teaspoons of rice mix and fold over each edge to form a neat cylinder. While holding the roll over the pot gently squeeze some of the excess liquid to create a tight sausage, place on bottom of pot. Continue until all the filling is used up, layering the sarmi (there will be 1 to 2 layers).
Note: When filling and rolling, follow the natural curve of the cabbage leaves.

3) Cover rolls with 2-3 cabbage leaves and place a small to medium plate on top to help weigh down the sarmi.

4) Pour boiling water over the sarmi until completely covered (only part of the plate should be covered with liquid). Cover with lid and bring to the boil.

5) Meanwhile, prepare the thickening sauce. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil then flour and stir frequently with a wooden spoon, being careful not to burn the flour (3-5 minutes). Have a ladle and whisk ready to go. When the flour starts to smell like it’s cooking do the sizzle test by dropping a tiny amount of the flour into the hot sarmi liquid, if it sizzles it’s ready, if not, continue cooking flour for another minute and test again. Turn off heat and stir through paprika, add 2 ladles of cooking liquid and whisk vigorously, once incorporated add another 2-3 ladles and whisk again until incorporated, continue to do this until you have a smooth slurry-type roux (3-5 minutes). Add the thickening sauce to the cooking sarmi, taste and season with salt. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, cook for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked.
Note: Shake the pot every so often to help the sarmi cook evenly.

6) Serve while hot with crusty bread or at room temperature as meze or part of a banquet.

– Pickled cabbage leaves are available at select supermarkets and most delicatessens.

2 Comments  |   Add a comment

  1. Mara

    A variation on bought pickled cabbage is to use a fresh cabbage blanched in hot water, then add white vinegar (to taste) to the pot at the cooking time.

  2. VillageCook

    Great advice, thanks Mara.

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