Stuffed Grape Leaves with Groundmeat (Etli Yaprak Sarması)

Sarma refers to a dish that can be prepared with grape, cabbage, or chard leaves. The term sarma derives from Turkish verb “sarmak,” which means to wrap or to roll. It can be prepared with rice and spices (vegetarian) or with rice and ground meat. Both are delicious. Sometimes sarma is called dolma, too, yet on the western part of Turkey, rolled leaves are always called sarma.

makes 50-60 stuffed grape leaves
1/2 lb ground meat
1/3 cup white rice
2 medium size onions, grated or chopped finely in a processor
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup dill
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp olive oil or 1,5 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
grape leaves



-If you have fresh grape leaves, boil water in a pot. Cook grape leaves ~1 minute in boiling water. Take out and let cool.
-If you are using jarred grape leaves, soak them in cold water for an hour; they tend to be salty.
-Put ground meat, rice, onion, black pepper, salt, parsley, dill, and 1,5 tbsp olive oil in a bowl.
-Dissolve 1 tbsp tomato paste with 3 tbsp hot water and pour this into the bowl.
-Mix all the ingredients.
-Save the broken, faulty leaves. Use them to cover the bottom of a pot with grape leaves to prevent them from burning.
-Take one leaf. Place it on a smooth surface the vein side up/shiny side down. Place a spoonful of stuffing at the bottom center of the leaf close to the stem. Fold in two sides first and then the bottom. Then roll it neatly like a cigar. Keep rolling until all the leaves are gone. If you still have stuffing, you can use it to stuff small bell peppers.
-Stack stuffed grape leaves in the pot tightly layer by layer.
-Add 1,5 tbsp olive oil or butter, juice of half lemon and water to barely cover the sarmas.
-Place a flat-ish plate on top of stuffed grape leaves so that they won’t move around. Cover and cook on low for 35-45 minutes.
-Serve with crusty bread and yogurt.

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