Delicious Turkish sarma recipe: easy and fast 

The national cuisine of Turkey is a kind of fusion of east and west. Ingredients are always fresh, flavors are spicy and rich while cooking and serving traditions are spectacular and generous.

Turkish cuisine is attractive because it has intertwined Mediterranean, Arabic, Indian, Caucasian, and Middle Eastern culinary traditions. In the Ottoman Empire, food was a cult, and nowadays it is paid much attention. In this amazing country breakfasts, lunches and dinners are an important part of life, so Turks eat slowly, savoring every bit of it. Family lunch or dinner to celebrate an event can last for hours. The table is full of exquisite dishes, and topics for leisurely conversation are inexhaustible.

But you and I don’t have to prepare dozens of dishes to surprise our loved ones with Turkish delicacies. What traditional Turkish dishes can we cook at home without spending all day in the kitchen?

Yaprak sarması – tiny grape leaf “stuffed pigeons” – is one of the most popular Turkish dishes. My husband had long hinted at me that it was time to finally master this dish, and I even tried to do it, but something in the recipe that I found on the Internet was wrong. When I said I was going to go to his mother’s to learn how to make yaprak sarma, he warmly supported my “project” and immediately, until I changed my mind, called her to “make an appointment” for me.

So, yaprak Sarma can be of two kinds: minced meat and vegetarian (“zeytinyağlı”, which translates as “on olive oil”). It turned out that each of them has its own tricks and prepare them a little differently. 

Some call this dish “dolma”, but in Turkey dolma called stuffed vegetables, and here the method of cooking – wrapping, so correctly call this dish “sarma” (yaprak – in Turkish “leaf”, sarma – a noun formed from the verb “wrap”). 

Both types of sarma require pickled grape leaves. Mother-in-law takes them from friends in the village somewhere. Where to take them from those who do not have such acquaintances, she does not know, but those leaves, which are sold in a shop or in a market, categorically rejected. In any case, when choosing leaves, pay attention to their thickness: the thinner and gentler they are, the better. 

Let’s start with vegetarian sarma.

Vegetarian Turkish sarma recipe



  • grape leaves
  • 1 onion.
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered mint
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 sugar cubes
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 glass of warm water

We grate the onion and fry it with vegetable oil. We add tomato paste. Add rice later. Mix, add spices, salt, and a glass of warm water. Close with a lid and cook until all water is boiled. The rice should remain a little hard. 

The filling is ready, you can start wrapping. Place the leaf on a flat surface, having ripped off its stalk beforehand. Its size should not be more than half a palm. We tear the big leaves in half. Lay out the filling (a little thinner than a finger), wrap the edge of the sheet, close the filling, then wrap inside the edges of the right and left, then tighten the leaf like a cigar. 

The resulting sarma should be the size of a finger. Carefully put sarma in the pan, putting each layer with a slice of lemon. 

Divide in a glass of water half a tablespoon of tomato paste, pour it into a pan with sarma, add more water to make its level almost equal to that of sarma (a little less), close the lid and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes. Check it from time to time, making sure that all water does not boil out. If the water is boiled before the 30 minutes are over, add the boiling water. 

After 30 minutes, the sarma rice may still be hard, so you should let it reach by leaving it in a pot with the lid closed for a while. 

Vegetarian sarma is served both hot and cold and is therefore popular in southern Turkey. The northern regions prefer sarma with minced meat. 

Turkish sarma recipe with meat


  • 300 g of nonfat minced beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered mint
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • pepper and salt to taste

Three onion grater, add tomato paste, rice, mint, salt, and pepper, all mixed with minced meat. The stuffing’s ready. Meat sarma is much smaller than vegetarian, and wrapped with leaves of smaller size: the leaves need the size of half a palm, which is about 2 times smaller than in the previous version. The method of wrapping leaves is also different. This time, we put the leaf in the palm of our hand, on it – a little stuffing (about a teaspoon), and twist it like a cigar, leaving the ends open, and only at the very end tuck the edges inside. 

When all Sarma will be rolled up and stacked in the pot, pour them with ordinary unsalted water (flush) and cook for about half an hour with the lid closed, remembering to check the presence of water.

Sarma is usually served with yogurt. The stuffing used for sarma is stuffed with everything in Turkey: peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, eggplants, dried eggplants and peppers, and even zucchini flowers. These dishes are called “dolma” because they are not wrapped, they are stuffed. 

There are familiar to us lovebirds in Turkey, but, as you may have guessed, much smaller sizes. In Turkey, it is generally believed that the harder a dish is, the more work is put into it, the more respect the hostess shows towards her guests. The manty, for example, should ideally be so small that it would fit on one tablespoon of 10 pieces. And the thinner and smaller the Sarma mistress, the more diligent and skillful she is. 

You might say that this is similar to Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls or german stuffed cabbage rolls, but unlike those, you’ll need grape leaves instead of cabbage.

I wish everyone success in mastering this dish and a good appetite!

Vegetables in Turkey

It’s nice that the Turks don’t consider vegetables a secondary dish. They love vegetable appetizers and salads, which are always served to meat and fish. One of the traditional salads is made of bulgur with spices, sometimes with vegetables and lemon juice. Choban snack is very good for meat – it is unusually simple but delicious. The salad is made of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, olives, herbs, and dressed with pomegranate juice and olive oil.

Turks often cook chickpea with vegetables, zucchini, and zucchini in different variations, stuffed onions and cabbage, artichokes, tomatoes and carrot balls with currants, pine nuts, and spices.

“Zeytignali” is the beautiful name of the green beans stewed with tomatoes and onions, while the mysterious name “Imam Bayaldy” hides the Turkish recipe for stuffed eggplants. Imam bayaldy” is translated as “Imam fainted”. Considering that Turkish chefs masterly cook eggplants, Imam is quite understandable!


Turkish sweets

Turkish sweets do not need advertising – they are known all over the world and are impeccable in terms of taste and aesthetics. What is one baklava worth! Who would have thought that the finest layers of puff pastry with walnut filling soaked in syrup could be so divinely delicious? There are many recipes for baklava – with raisins, honey, sour cream and yeast dough, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla.

Everybody knows rakhat-lukum, which is made of sugar, flour, starch, and nuts, but few people have heard about suetlach – Turkish rice porridge. And one should also try writing – thin threads of fried sugar and flour with the addition of nuts and sesame seeds. This is something between cotton candy and halva.

It is also worth tasting Turkish halva made of sesame paste with pistachios or cocoa, roasted tubes made of tullumba dough watered with sugar syrup, and mana revani pie. The dessert is extraordinarily delicious – boil carrot or fruit juice, add pistachios and bring it to a jelly-like state.

Very tasty cooked with sugar pumpkin – tavern tatlysy, which is served with thick cream. And if you try the künefa, crispy dough with melted cheese inside, and under the sweet sauce, you will realize that nothing tastes better than eating…

Best Turkish drinks

Many Turkish drinks are unparalleled in our kitchen. For example, a real Turkish yogurt ayran is nothing like that carbonated kefir, which can be found on the shelves of Russian supermarkets. Turkish coffee is also incomparable – sweet, strong, which is served in tiny cups.

It is impossible to describe the taste of salep drink – it is made of milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and orchid roots. Turks prefer to drink hot salep during cold seasons. You will also be impressed by the spicy, sour drink salep, which is made from a turnip.

But Turkish tea is not distinguished by any peculiarities, even though tea culture in Turkey is at a high level. Turkish tea tastes similar to Georgian tea. Traditionally, it is brewed in a double teapot – below there is a water tank, and on top, there is a teapot. Water before brewing is necessarily insisted all day long, and tea is served very hot and necessarily with sugar, without honey and milk.

Of the strong drinks popular vodka crayfish fortress 40-70 degrees and conditionally alcoholic drink boza, which is the result of fermentation of cereals with sugar.

Turkish cuisine will make you look at the culinary culture in a new way. You will learn a lot of interesting things, make your gastronomic discoveries and learn to cook something new. In the meantime, take a look at the photos of Turkish cuisine and be inspired by new ideas!


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