Stuffed vine leaves

Stuffed vine leaves are, to my surprise, a pretty common dish in many countries. I think it must be the courtesy of the Ottoman empire. Dolma in Armenia and Turkey, dolmades in Greece or sarmale in foi de vita in the South-East of Romania.

I find it so resourceful to use the vine leaves for cooking. And they have a very special taste. The filling I use is identical to the Romanian classical sarmale:

Stuffed vine leaves
Servings: 25-30 sarmale
Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours
Difficulty: medium


  • 0.5 kg minced meat, pork and beef
  • 1 onion
  • 50 g rice
  • 100 g canned tomatoes
  • 1 tpsp paprika
  • 1 tsp curcuma (optional)
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • oil for frying
  • salt and pepper
  • vine leaves
  • whole pepper
  • laurel leaves
  • 150 ml of tomato sauce


  1. In a pan sauté the onion until it gets golden.
  2. Add the paprika, curcuma (you can skip this one, it is not a traditional spice for this recipe, I just like it this way) and the thyme.
  3. You can now add the rice and the tomatoes and let the rice to cook half way. If the rice soaks all the liquid, add a bit more water.
  4. Pour the sauté mix over the raw minced meat and mix very well. Make sure the mixture is not too dry and difficult to maneuver. In the case, you can add a bit more water.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Untangle the vine leaves.
  7. Place the broken or bent ones on the bottom of the pot, so that you prevent the burning of the sarmale.
  8. Place a bit of the meat mixture in the middle of a vine leaf and wrap them as in the picture.
  9. Place them in your pot, then add the tomato sauce, whole black pepper, laurel leaves and hot water until you cover them.
  10. Cook on small fire for 1-2 hours, or until you open one sarma and the rice and meat are cooked.
  11. Serve with sour cream.