COUNTRY:                           SERBIA

DISH:                                     SARMA

CONTRIBUTED BY:            Natalija Vujicic, Daughter of Ambassador

Sarma is the Serbian version of stuffed cabbage that many Serbs serve every day but especially for special occasions like their slava and other holidays.  Some people use imported or homemade whole heads of brined cabbage (sauerkraut) known as kiseli kupus when making their sarma.



1 (3 to 4-pound) large head cabbage

1 pound ground chuck

1/2 pound ground pork

1 cup raw rice, rinsed

1 (1.4-ounce) package dehydrated onion soup mix

1 32-ounce jar sauerkraut (rinsed and drained)

6 smoked ribs (or ham hock or other smoked meat)

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup


  1. Steam cabbage until outer leaves are limp, then remove leaves.
  2. With a paring knife, remove tough ribs from leaves without damaging them. Reserve tougher outer leaves, but don’t use for rolling.


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together ground chuck, ground pork, rice, and onion soup mix.
  2. Adding a little water will make the mixture easier to handle.

Assemble the Rolls

  1. Heap 2 tablespoons of filling on each cabbage leaf.
  2. Add filling – Fold the bottom of the cabbage leaf up over meat.
  3. Roll leaf.
  4. Then fold sides to the center and roll away from yourself to encase completely.
  5. Repeat until meat filling is gone.

Bake the Sarma

  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Discard the cabbage core and coarsely chop any remaining cabbage except the tough outer leaves you have reserved.
  3. Spread chopped cabbage on the bottom of a large casserole dish or Dutch oven. Add the sauerkraut.
  4. Layer on the cabbage rolls, seam side down.
  5. Cut the smoked ribs into pieces if using, otherwise, space the smoked meat of choice between the cabbage rolls.
  6. Cover rolls with reserved tough outer leaves.
  7. Mix tomato sauce and soup with enough water to make a liquid consistency.
  8. Pour over rolls until mixture is level with rolls, but not over the top.
  9. Cover casserole dish and bake 1 hour.
  10. Then reduce temperature to 325 F and bake for 2 more hours. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes before serving.