Sarma is basically ground beef and rice rolled into cabbage, greens or grapevine. In Serbia, the most popular is the sour cabbage version. Some people prefer it with sour cream (pavlaka), while others like garlic with it.
Sarma in Serbia
In Serbia sarma is cooked by using sour cabbage leaves, ground meat, rice and seasonings. Rolls are slowly simmered for a long time in large pots with lard and layers of smoked pork, seasoned with vegetable seasoning, bay leaves and paprika. Some family recipes include finishing sarma by baking it in oven which gives it distinctive flavor. One of the staple meals for festive occasions like Christmas, New Year, Easter, birthdays, family saint patron’s day (slava) etc. Also, there are various Serbian recipes prepared in accordance to Orthodox Christian religious restrictions on using meat and animal fat during period of Lent. Lenten version is usually stuffed with rice, shredded carrots, onions, seasonings, occasionally walnuts or even chunks of smoked fish, and cooked in water and vegetable oil. Although it can be eaten with bread, it’s usually served with proja (corn bread), preferably still hot. Besides cabbage, grape leaves are also used to prepare sarma. It goes good with ajvar.