Romanian Sarmale know as Cabbage Rolls


The Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls) is one of the main dishes that we prepare back home for the Christmas meal. During this time of year the house will be decorated with Christmas trees, cakes, mulled wine and you will smell aroma from a pot in the oven. That’s when the holidays begin, and is a must to prepare this traditional recipe.

Because I don’t live at home anymore and it quite difficult and expensive to go home, my mom sends me every year brine pickled cabbage and different types of pickled vegetables.

For this recipe I have used the below ingredients:

2 heads of brine pickled cabbage

1.5 kg of minced pork

2 medium white onions finely chopped

½ cup of rice

1 cup of tomato paste

1 cup of chopped bacon (preferably smoked)

4 spoons of vegetable oil


ground pepper

bay leaves



sour crème

If cabbage is salty or too sour, keep it in cold water an hour. Loosen the sheets , remove the ribs stronger and cut them how big you want to make cabbage rolls .

In a large pan, sauté the chopped onion for about 5 minutes and then take it off from the heat.

Mix the meat with sauté onions, rice,thyme and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste, homogenising composition.

Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of the meat filling in centre of cabbage leaf. Fold right hand side of leaf over filling, then roll from base to bottom of leaf, then with index finger gently tuck left hand side of leaf into cabbage roll to make a nice neat roll Place pork hock on top of sauerkraut. Arrange cabbage rolls, seam side down in pot in tidy layers and between them add the bacon. Place them loosely touching each other and layer on top of one another. Sprinkle peppercorn and 1-2 bay leaves between layers. Chop any leftover cabbage and place on top of them. Spread tomato sauce over them and place 1 bay leaf on top. Don’t top the pot to the rim and place a plate on top because the rice will expand while cooking and not to push the entire sarmale up.

Cover rolls with water just enough to cover the rolls. After that put them in the oven and cook for about 3-4 hours.

Serve with sour cream and polenta for a real Romanian dish.



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