Stuffed Grape Leaves with Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarması)

This dish has various names. Some people call it 'dolma' (see recipe for 'Karışık Dolma'), some people call it 'sarma' and so it goes. In my hometown, we call it 'Sarma'. The word 'sarma' comes from the verb 'sarmak' meaning 'to wrap' or 'to roll'. This can be done with grape leaves, chard leaves or cabbage leaves. The stuffing for recipe 'Karışık Dolma' under Stuffed Dishes on my blog can also be used for this. I usually use stuffing with meat, however this time I took a vegetarian route to make this dish. Once before I made this without meat and it turned out really good. Even though most people eat dish cold and as an appetizer, I prefer it warm. Feel free to do eat it anyway you like.

For the Stuffing:

2 cups rice
½ white or yellow onion (chopped)
½ cup pine nuts
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint (or 2 tbsp dried mint)
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leave parsley (or 2 tbsp dried parsley)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
2 lemons

For Rolling & Cooking:

1 jar grape leaves or as much as it takes to finish the stuffing above
½ lemon
2 sprigs fresh mint
2 garlic cloves (sliced)
2 tbsp olive oil
Water (as much as it takes to fill ¾ of the pot)


Mix all the stuffing ingredients together. The stuffing should look like this:

If you are using a pickled grape leaves, remove from the jar and run under cold water and squeeze to let all the water out.

Take one grape leaf and place on a cutting board or well cleaned counter. If your cutting board is white, it will turn to a greenish/brownish color from this because of all the juices as you can see in the pictures :( Make sure to place your leaf the smooth side down, facing the board. When you roll it, the smooth side of the leaf will be on the outer side.

Remove the stem. Place some stuffing on the leaf.

Start rolling the grape leaf by first making one fold forward and then folding both sides in.

Keep rolling forward until the leaf is completely rolled.

Place neatly in a pot. The first round of placing the sarmas in the pot looks like this:

When the pot is full, the sarmas should look like this:

Once all the grape leaves are rolled, place the fresh mint leaves on top along with sliced garlic. Pour ½ lemon juice on top and drizzle the olive oil. Add water enough to cover ¾ of the pot.

Place small plates on the sarmas to put weight on them so they do not open during the cooking process. Cover and cook on medium heat until water boils. Reduce the heat once the water boils and start cooking on low for 45 minutes. Make sure the water does not dry out before cooking. I always take one sarma and taste it before I decide if the rice inside has cooked or not. Enjoy warm or cold.

Note: You may also use the stuffing (with meat) used in the Karısık Dolma recipe. You may also use the vegetarian stuffing for making dolmas with eggplants, zucchinis or bell peppers.

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