Taste Serbia

Sarma, Serbian rolled cabbage

There is no “serious” household in Serbia that does not pickle vegetables for winter. We cannot easily find a great variety of fresh vegetables in the market once the winter knocks on the doors. The temperatures can drop under 0C and stay there for weeks. Winters are long and lacking sunshine. For this reason, once the leaves start to fall, people freeze or pickle the fruits and vegetables to consume during long, cold winter. The king of Serbian pickles is sour cabbage, pickled only in salt and water, and kept in large wooden or plastic barrels in the cold apartment building or house cellars. There is a variety of dishes made with sauerkraut during winter- and the queen of Serbian winter foods is sarma: rolled cabbage cooked slowly with smoked ribs- the ubiquitous dish on each winter festive table, especially Slava.

Once sarma is served on festive table, we know that the meal is almost done. After this comes usually a mix of roast pork or lamb from the pit. This photo was taken on the terrace of my grandparents village house- sarma made with the last pickled cabbages when the shy sun announces the coming spring after the rain. This is my grandmother’s sarma recipe.


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