Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sarma

I'm not sure how traditional this might be, but there are so many different versions of sarma (i.e. stuffed cabbage) that someone must do it this way. Trust me, it is amazing and worth the extra tedious steps I've added, just to make it more difficult. Start with a big head of cabbage. I had an oddly flat one with huge leaves. Cut out the core and boil it in salty water for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool and drain. Then take two should lamb chops and chop them up finely by hand. You don't want meat grinder texture, but a fine cut, with fat and all. Add salt, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, zaatar, a little sugar and mix up. Lay a large thigh shaped piece of lamb filling in each cabbage leaf, tuck in the sides and roll up. Put them in a clay casserole. Now the fun part. Add a little olive oil and wine, sprinkle with more zaatar, cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for two hours or longer. Then remove tin foil and continue to cook on the stove top so all the liquid is reduced. Keep spooning it over. I also added about a tablespoon of harissa to the liquid and kept spooning. Notice no rice or tomato. The filling becomes wonderfully tender. Serve with polenta. I'll bet they're even better today.

11 comments:

Rachel laudan said...

This has gone straight on to the week's menu. Thanks for that, Ken.

Rebecca Altman said...

Yep, just went onto my menu too :).

Ken Albala said...

You know my mom made this often, and I have no idea how she did it. But I think it was ground beef, onions and tomato sauce. I'll have to ask. It was good, just very different.

lostpastremembered said...

Just had my homemade merguez... love lamb but never heard of this dish. Zatar makes anything better and that is a great looking dish.

Nick Trachet said...

By coincidence I'm preparing my weekly column about sarma. You used savoy cabbage or white?
I was told to use pickled capbbage, like saurkraut, but made from whole heads instead of shredded white cabbage.

Ken Albala said...

Yes Nick, One version is made with leaves from a whole pickled head of cabbage. I've been trying it for a long time now, but haven't got the cabbage pickled quite right. This is just a flat white cabbage, that apparently is common in Turkey. I'll figure out the pickled version eventually.

Jeane M. said...

This yummy recipe makes me want to leave all these work and zoom in to nearest store for ingredients. Must have this on my table. :D Got my eye on your next posts.

Anti Money Laundering said...

Sounds delicious, i haven't tried this menu but as what i read they liked it, i guess i can make some for my self.

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SilvanaMondo said...

I remember this when you posted it on FB a while back. Looks delicious. In ex Yugoslavia (Bosnia etc)they start to cure their cabbage in October, stuffing a bunch of fresh heads in salted water, covered for about a month in the shed (or, where ever it wont smell up the house) and then the cabbage is perfect and tender once cooked for sarma. My grandmother made it the Croatian way - similar to the Germans but no cumin - with mixture of beef, veal & pork then added sauerkraut and ham hocks, finally some tomato sauce. The Bosniaks make it with beef only (no pork allowed) & smaller pieces of cabbage, often adding carrots, onion & plenty of sunflower oil but no sauerkraut.Bit sweeter. Now, I've made myself hungry again.