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Melanie’s Sarma (Croation stuffed cabbage leaves)

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I decided to try again after a long time, a dish that is popular all over the world.
Stuffed cabbage leaves. Here in SA we fondly call it ‘ou mense onder die kombers’.
Other’s will call it ‘Grandma’s stuffed cabbage leaves.
The Greeks use only grape vine leaves and call it Dolmathes as part of their Mezze platter.
I’m married to a Croation and in Croatia the stuffed cabbage leaves is known as SARMA.
The concept is all the same, just method and spices vary. Naturally I made the Croation version. This is how I made it. SARMA (Croation stuffed cabbage leaves)

1 head of cabbage
500 gr beef mince (or lamb)
200 gr minced pork) (or beef or all lamb or beef)
2 cups cooked rice (I used basmati)
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup grated carrot
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp vegetta (Croation spice – available from German butchers) (substitute Aromat)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tblsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mixed herbs
2 cans tomato soup

Remove the core from the head of cabbage, then the head of cabbage is to be submerged in a pot of luke warm water with 2 tblsp kosher salt.
Leave it for 2 days, turning the cabbage regularly.
Heat 4 tblsp olive oil in a pot and add mince, breaking up with fork till meat changes colour.
Add garlic, onion and carrot and fry till tender.
Add all spices and fry till spices incorporated.
Add rice and ¾ of 1 can of soup. Cook until soup has evaporated and mixture fairly dried out.
Separate all the leaves, be careful not to break (a few will break!).
Using a sharp knife just take the tip of the hard part of the cabbage.
Where that open part is start filling the cabbage with the mince mixture, fold over, tuck in the sides and roll.
Pour some soup at the bottom of large casserole dish, place the cabbage rolls seam side down on top. Pour a can of tomato soup over to cover.
Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for about an hour.
I served with a yogurt and coriander dip/sauce.

Yogurt/Coriander sauce
200 ml plain yoghurt
2 tblsp lemon juice
2 minced garlic cloves
2 spring onion chopped
¼ cup finely chopped corander
Salt and ground black pepper

Mix all together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve .

Prepared, tried and tested by:  Melanie Kramar‎

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