Grape Leaf Sarma (Dolma)


I think most people are familiar with stuffed grape leaves.  A lot of stores like Whole Foods and specialty gourmet grocery stores call them dolma.  Dolma and Sarma are interchangeable and basically means rolled and stuffed leaves (grape or cabbage).  The only decent stuffed grape leaves that I have found in NYC are at Mamoun’s and they sell them for $2.00 for four.

This is another food I remember having growing up.  My Armenian great-grandmother used to make them for family gatherings and holiday’s.  I helped my grandma make them a couple years ago before she passed away and it really didn’t seem that difficult. The hardest part is rolling the leaves and making sure you put the right amount of filling because too much you won’t be able to roll them correctly and too little will make them fall apart; a hearty tablespoon sized dollop will work.

Most of the ingredients are found at your local grocery store.  The grape leaves are sold in jars with about 50 leaves which can be found at Whole Foods or if you have a Middle Eastern market in your town you can find the jarred leaves there.


  • 2 cups or rice
  • 3 lbs onion (grind in the largest size opening/food processor)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbs parsley
  • 1 tbs dill
  • 1 tsp mint
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 small tomato ( seeded, peeled, and chopped fine)
  • salt, pepper, and cinnamon

Follow these steps

  1. sweat the onions
  2. add oil; wilt onions
  3. add rice
  4. add spices
  5. put lemon in last, turn off heat, cover pan, let rest and cool

Roll grape leaves like a cigar. Place them one by one in the pot as you roll them, seam side down. You will have 2 levels if you’re making 40-50.  Boil 3 cups of water with salt and 1/2 lemon juice. After you have finished rolling and setting, pour boiling water over the grape leaves. Cover with the remaining small/broken leaves. Then add a flat plate or top to press down on the grape leaves to keep them from unrolling while cooking. Cook for one hour in a pre-heated 350° oven.

When they are done, use tongs to extract and place in container. Drizzle olive oil and over them and set in refrigerator until cool.


4 responses »

  1. adam,
    cool blog. i make a Syrian version of these that my grandmother made a lot and my mother still makes around holidays. main difference is that it’s cooked on top of the stove with some slightly different spices and it’s filled with ground lamb and rice and topped with tons of garlic and lemon juice. anyhow, kudos on the blog.

    • Thanks. There are a lot of different versions of these; I think each country in that area probably has their own. My dad says the Greek grape leaves have lamb and served hot. This recipe is the Armenian version that I grew up with. My mom just made them for this past xmas.

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