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Sarmades of Siatista – stuffed cabbage leaves with minced meat

Σαρμάδες Σιατιστινοί


  • 3 kilos of a whole cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 level tablespoons of xino (lemon tu zu)
  • 300 gr. lean minced beef mixed with 300 gr. minced pork
  • 1 onion, grated
  • Nearly 1 cup of tomato sauce – this dish does not want a lot of tomatoes!
  • Salt, pepper, ground allspice
  • 3-4 drops of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar
  • 1 ½ small cups of rice
  • 3 tablespoons of cooking vegetable fat, plus 1 tablespoon for the final cooking

my mum’s recipe

This dish is a surprise of its own! The complexity of its preparation, the personal contact with the ingredients, the ongoing care and dedication to the process plus the explosive taste, create one incredible offer of love.  Of course, it is a dish made strictly for adults!



  1. Wash the cabbage. Cut its heart in the middle, where the hard part is  and put the rest of the cabbage leaves to boil in a pot, nearly covered with water. Boil for about 20 minutes or when you check with a fork that they became soft. You have to turn them once. Do not through this water yet!
  2. Prepare the minced meat: boil the onion, chopped finely, with the minced meat and add after a while the tomato sauce.
  3. Pour 1 cup of water, some salt (take care of the amount of salt because the leaves have been boiled in a lot of it also!), pepper, ground allspice and simmer for 20 minutes altogether.
  4. Add the rice and 1 small cup of the water that the cabbage was boiled. Simmer for 5 minutes. Squeeze a little fresh lemon.
  5. Arrange the cabbage leaves on a platter and keep the minced meat next to you. Now put in one hand a piece of a leaf of the cabbage, be careful not to split it, remove the hard part from the edge of the leaf and fill it with a spoon of the minced meat.
  6. Wrap it like a small roll, putting first the edges inside and then roll the last part of the leave, so the minced meat will be kept safely into the leaf, like a pocket. I only recently managed to conquer this procedure of how to stuff a cabbage leaf, simply by watching my mother’s technique.  And of course this makes me so excited as I feel a new member of the Siatista girls’ team of good cooks for stuffing cabbage leaves!
  7. In a deep casserole place the sarmades in rows. First you have covered the bottom of the casserole with some boiled cabbage leaves from the ones that are not used for stuffing.
  8. Add 1 small cup of the cabbage juice we kept, 1 tablespoon of the vegetable cooking fat and sprinkle with some sugar. Cover them with an old plate, so they will simmer without any movement in the pot and let them cook slowly for 30 minutes. Taste to see if they are done. They must be tender and soft. Mainly though, they will get their real good taste afterwards when they will  “sit” to rest inside the casserole!
  9. Serve them after 1 hour, counting from the time you took them away from fire and removed the old plate on top.


Ideas: In a traditional way we prepare the sarmades with pickled cabbage, the so called “armia”,  but if you use them, take good care of the salt you will add.

It is a dish that can be preserved beautifully in the fridge for 5-6 days I would say and, it is served like an appetizer, Greek mezes, especially at Christmas time!


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