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The national dish of Romania - Sarmale

Recipe: The national dish of Romania - Sarmale cu mamaliga si carnati

Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Course, Main Dish
Servings 4


Stuffed cabbage

  • 500 g minced pork
  • 100 g bacon
  • 4 smoked pork sausages
  • 100 g rice
  • 2 cabbage heads
  • 6 large wine leaves
  • 4 onions
  • 150 ml sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 250 g tomato sauce


  • 300 g polenta
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 liter water
  • butter optional
  • parmesan optional


  • Boil the rice
  • In a large pot bring water to a boil, just enough to cover the cabbage. Boil until the leaves become tender. Make sure to remove to outer leaves before putting in the water. Also boil the grape leaves until tender.
  • In a frying pan, over medium heat, sauté the onions until golden brown, and remove from heat.
  • Then prepare the pork filling: mix the minced pork with the bacon, boiled rice, salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, dill, thyme and the onions. Cut the sausages into small pieces.
  • Remove the leaves from the first cabbage and put a tablespoon of the pork filling, a piece of sausage and another layer of pork filling in each. Roll the leaf to cover to the filling and tuck in each side. Repeat the filling process with the vine leaves.
  • Cut the second cabbage in two and put half of it at the bottom of a deep oven dish. Arrange the cabbage rolls in layers. Add the other half of the second cabbage on top with tomato sauce. Add just enough water to cover the rolls. Cover (with foil if your oven dish doesn’t have a lid) and bake in the oven at 85 °C to 100 °C, depending on your oven’s setting, for about three hours.
  • When the rolls are about to be ready, prepare the polenta: bring the water to a boil, add some salt and gradually stir in the polenta. Continue to stir as you pour the polenta, for about five minutes, until it thickens. Optional: add a click of butter and some grated parmesan to the polenta at the end.
  • Serve hot with sour cream on the side.