Well this blog couldn’t be called "The Stuffed Grape Leaf" if it weren’t for recipes like this one. There’s something wonderfully addicting about the combination of flavors that go into Yalanchi Sarma.
Although Yalanchi Sarma is made with a lot of diced onions, the onion melds with all the other flavors happening in the recipe so that you don’t really notice a strong onion flavor.
Served chilled, Yalanchi Sarma is a great appetizer or accompaniment for many Armenian or Mediterranean dishes.
What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Yalanchi Sarma?
Grape Leaves: Orlando California Grape Leaves or another reputable brand is recommended. A jar of Orlando California Grape Leaves comes with approximately 75 grape leaves, but you may not be able to use them all. If some pieces are not shaped well, you can tear pieces off of other irregularly-shaped leaves to fill in the gaps.
Onions: Although using a lot of onions, there is not a strong onion flavor in this sarma. I recommend using white or yellow onions.
Rice: Use Calrose rice for this recipe. Calrose is a type of short-grain white rice that softens nicely and absorbs all the wonderful flavors of Yalanchi Sarma.
Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil provides the right flavor for this dish.
Tomato Sauce: Just a small 8 oz. can will do. Some recipes call for a can of tomato paste and extra water, but tomato sauce works great!
Lemon Juice: Look for large fresh lemons. You will probably need two lemons to provide six tablespoons of lemon juice.
Pine Nuts: Don't leave these out! Even though pine nuts are very pricey, they have an indispensable, distinct flavor. Splurge on a big bag of pine nuts at Costco and store them in your freezer to keep them fresh. They will last a lot longer than you think.
Spices: Mint, paprika, salt and pepper. My grandma also added a few fresh leaves of mint to the pot when baking.
How Do I Make Yalanchi Sarma?
Rinse the Calrose rice in a fine mesh colander and then set them aside. Next, finely chop the onions or process them in a food processor. After that, sauté the onions until they begin to become translucent. Next, add the salt and rice. And finally, pour in the hot water and simmer everything for 20 minutes.
After simmering, cool the mixture down for 5 minutes and then add your small can of tomato sauce, minced parsley, pine nuts, paprika, pepper, sugar, dry mint and lemon juice.
Line an oven-safe pot with a layer of grape leaves.
How to Assemble the Sarma
Flatten a single grape leaf on a plate or cutting board. Snip the stem off the grape leaf. Be sure the thicker veins are on the outside. Put a heaping tablespoon of sarma filling in the middle. Bring the bottom of the leaf up over the filling. Tuck in the sides and roll to the top. Here is a great video explaining how to roll grape leaves.
Stack the rolled sarma into the pan. Then, add a layer of grape leaves over the top and add 1 cup of water and a few fresh mint leaves to the pan (optional).
- 1 large jar of Grape Leaves 16 oz.
- 3 c. chopped onion
- 1 ½ c. Calrose rise
- 1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ c. pine nuts
- 1 sm. can of tomato sauce 8 oz.
- 1 ½ c. minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- Juice from 2 lemons 6 Tbsp.
- 1 tsp. dried mint
- A few fresh mint leaves to add to water when baking. Optional
- 1 ¼ cup hot water
- 2 tsp. sugar
- Rinse the rice under cold water in a strainer. Set aside.
- Dice onions finely by hand or in a food processor. Sauté onions in oil until translucent.
- Add salt and rice. Cover with hot water and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and add can of tomato sauce, minced parsley, pine nuts, paprika, pepper, sugar, dry mint and lemon juice.
- Assemble sarma. Flatten a single grape leaf on a plate or cutting board. Snip the stem off the grape leaf. Be sure the thicker veins are on the outside. Put a heaping tablespoon of sarma filling in the middle. Bring the bottom of the leaf up over the filling. Tuck in the sides and roll to the top. Here is a great video explaining how to roll grape leaves.
- Line an oven-safe pot with a layer of grape leaves. Stack the rolled sarma into the pan. Add a layer of grape leaves over the top and add 1 cup of water and a few fresh mint leaves to the pan (optional). Cover the top with a baking dish for added support and then add the lid on top.
- Bake at 350° F for 75 minutes.
- Refrigerate sarma and serve cold.
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