Sarmi – Stuffed Grape Leaves

SarmiThe Bulgarians call them sarmi, the Greek call them dolmas. They are best with fresh, young grape leaves from the top of the grape vines were the leaves are light green and not hard to chew.

(Serves 6-8, prep 30 min, cook 50 min)


  • Fresh young grape leaves – 40-50 leaves (if from a jar, rinse with water)
  • 1 lb. ground beef (or ½ lb ground pork, ½ lb ground turkey)
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp. chubritsa (or Greek oregano)
  • 1-2 tsp. salt


  • One thick, heat resistant ceramic plate that fits in your pot upside down
  • One clean small rock, the size of a fist


  1. In a large pot, stew onion and garlic in oil on the stove, using medium heat.
  2. Add rice and fry rice for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add beef or pork and fry until it is brown and water has evaporated.
  4. Add paprika, salt and chubritsa (or Greek oregano).
  5. Stir well and let the filling mixture cool for 15 minutes.
  6. Take one grape leaf and place it flat in your left palm.
  7. Scoop a tablespoon of the meat and rice filling and place near the stem area of the grape leaf.
  8. Roll up the sides of the leaf to make a cylinder.
  9. Place sarma (stuffed grape leaf) on the bottom of an empty pot.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 and place stuffed grape leaves side by side in a pot in multiple rows.
  11. Press the stuffed grape leaves with a thick heat resistant ceramic plate turned upside down and put the clean rock on top of it. This will ensure the stuffed grape leaves don’t fall apart after the rice is fully cooked.
  12. Add warm water until the plate is covered.
  13. Cover with a lid.
  14. Cook 40-50 minutes on low heat or until the rice is done.
  15. Serve 4-5 warm stuffed grape leaves with 2 tbsp. plain yogurt on the side.

Copyright Eli Potter Productions