Known as sour cabbage rolls, or stuffed cabbage rolls, the Romanian sarmale are a perfect dish for any festive occasion. The traditional recipe is however fatty, and heavy. Mine is adapted to our dietary needs, and despite the fact that it lacks lard and fat meats, it’s still as tasty as it can be. What lacks in fats is added in flavors – fresh herbs from my own garden.
The dish is usually made around Christmas, when pork meat is available and fresh in most rural households, right after the traditional pig slaughtering. Weddings are also an occasion for Romanians to celebrate serving sarmale. In our home, we just eat them when we are in the mood.
Because we are living in Germany, where pickled cabbage leaves are not available in stores, we usually buy whole pickled cabbage heads, vacuum packed, from Turkish or Russian stores.
The traditional serving of sarmale is with hot polenta and sour cream. I will follow up with a series of polenta recipes soon. In the meanwhile, if you don’t know how to make polenta, and you cannot find a simple recipe, just serve with bread.