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TRADITIONAL SARMALE (Romanian Cabbage Rolls)

Traditional Romanian cuisine has been influenced by its friendly neighbours and hostile invaders over the centuries: by Turkish, Hungarian, Greek, Serbian… but also by the Orthodox religious customs.

If you have never tried the “Sarmale”, a simple explanation of this dish could be: a balanced mixture of minced meat, usually, pork or beef, with rice, pieces of traditional bacon, chopped onions and herbs, all rolled in sour white cabbage leaves (sauerkraut), slowly cooked in a traditional clay pot in the oven, covered with cabbage brine, tomato sauce and smoked meat. In Romania, this dish is meant to be enjoyed at any festive occasion, nevertheless, Christmas is the traditional time to have this warm “grandma’s” dish.

Get inspired by our recipe and try it yourself at home :-)

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 140 minutes


  • 400 grams of minced pork

  • 200 grams of minced beef

  • 4 smoked ham slices

  • 1 onion

  • 1 tablespoon of oil (Sunflower)

  • 65 grams of rice

  • 200ml Tomato concentrate

  • salt (to taste)

  • freshly ground pepper

  • a few peppercorns

  • fresh or dried dill

  • thyme (optional)

  • 14-15 pickled cabbage leaves

  • hot peppers and paprika


  • Mix all the minced meat, then add the rice and onion hardened in oil, tomato concentrate, diced smoked ham, salt and pepper. Because sauerkraut is salty, be careful not to add too much salt.

  • Wash the sauerkraut several times in cold water and allow it to drain. Then take two sheets of cabbage and fill them with the meat composition, so as to obtain large cabbage rolls, which are served one at a time. Place in a traditional clay pot with a thicker bottom, over a layer of chopped cabbage. Sprinkle with chopped dill, a few sprigs of thyme and peppercorns, then pour cabbage juice folded in hot water to cover the rolls.

  • Put it on medium heat, and after the first boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it boil slowly for about two hours. They can also be put in the oven for half an hour. Serve hot with hot peppers and fresh cream. Enjoy! :-)

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