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Yalanchi Sarma!

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Yalanchi Sarma!

Yalanchi sarma is one of my favourite dishes. It comes from the dolma/sarma family and is staple among Armenian, Greek, Turkish and Middle-Eastern families. While dolma is usually meat ground up with herbs and spices and stuffed into cabbage, tomatoes, zucchinis and/or eggplants, sarma is when the mixture is wrapped with grape leaves. Yalanchi sarma is a special one for me, as many sarma and dolma types are filled with meat, so when I became a vegetarian, I felt lucky that I could still enjoy this vegan-by-default dish. The name actually has a funny story behind it - yalanchi means "liar" in Turkish, and therefore the name of this dish is "lying sarma", since most types of sarma and dolma usually have meat, but this one does not, so it is therefore "lying"! It is packed with nutrients, is perfect for lunch or dinner, and is also conveniently portable, and can be eaten hot or cold! Grape leaves, as a "dark green" contain some calcium, iron, potassium, and of course fibre, so I especially love using them as wrappers. Minerals are also not affected by heat, which is great in this case since they are boiled. While white rice is traditionally used, you can swap it for quinoa or a different grain to make it even healthier!

Yalanchi sarma is one of my favourite dishes. It comes from the dolma/sarma family and is staple among Armenian, Greek, Turkish and Middle-Eastern families. While dolma is usually meat ground up with herbs and spices and stuffed into cabbage, tomatoes, zucchinis and/or eggplants, sarma is when the mixture is wrapped with grape leaves. Yalanchi sarma is a special one for me, as many sarma and dolma types are filled with meat, so when I became a vegetarian, I felt lucky that I could still enjoy this vegan-by-default dish. The name actually has a funny story behind it - yalanchi means "liar" in Turkish, and therefore the name of this dish is "lying sarma", since most types of sarma and dolma usually have meat, but this one does not, so it is therefore "lying"! It is packed with nutrients, is perfect for lunch or dinner, and is also conveniently portable, and can be eaten hot or cold! Grape leaves, as a "dark green" contain some calcium, iron, potassium, and of course fibre, so I especially love using them as wrappers. Minerals are also not affected by heat, which is great in this case since they are boiled. While white rice is traditionally used, you can swap it for quinoa or a different grain to make it even healthier!
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Directions

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Yields: 30 Servings
Instructions:

Ingredients:

30 grape leaves
3 cups white rice
2 tablespoons tomato or pepper paste
1 yellow onion
1 bunch parsley
2 tablespoons mint flakes
3 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon
2 teaspoons hot pepper ((optional))

Steps:

The grape leaves can be picked fresh when they are in season, or you can buy them in a store. In a pot, after rinsing and de-stemming the grape leaves, boil them with a lid for about five to seven minutes to soften them. Do this early on so they cool off in time for the mixture.
You can put three cups of rice in a pot, put about six tablespoons of boiling water over it, keeping the heat as low as possible. You don’t want to cook the rice completely, since you will continue to boil it again as a whole in the grape leaves. In a pan, you can cook the onions with olive oil and then add the chopped parsley and include the salt and pepper.
You can then add this to the rice pot, along with two teaspoons of tomato paste and this is the mix that goes inside of the grape leaves!
Now you can start with the sarma-rolling! For this you need one flat plate you can put all the grape leaves on, the pot with the mixture (cooled off, ideally), a larger pot you will put all of the rolled sarmas into to boil, and plate(s) for individual rolling (depends on how many people are helping).

Before you start, put a few of the grape leaves on the bottom of the pot you will use to boil. You can use the ones that are damaged or have holes (there will always be a couple) to prevent the sarmas from burning.

You can now begin the rolling! Take a grape leaf, and place it so the protruding vein-y side is facing you, and begin. Take a small amount of the filling and put it on the end where you have de-stemmed the leaf.

Roll it tightly, making sure to tuck in the sides so that when you boil them they do not come loose. There is a bit of an “art” to doing this, but the most important is to make them tight and closed off and all should be well!

Once you roll them up, place them in the pot and as you add more to the pot, make sure you keep them nice and tight together, and not allow too many open spaces between each sarma.
Next add some warm/hot water to a cup, one tablespoon of tomato paste, lots of mint (I am always very generous with mint), some salt, and the juice of one lemon. Mix them all together and pour over the little sarmas. It should cover about 3/4ths or more of them.

Put the lid on, and boil this on low heat for about 30-45 minutes. You will know when it’s ready when the grape leaves are soft enough to easily piece with a knife, and when the rice is completely cooked and the liquid has all been soaked up.

Once it cools off, you can enjoy these little bundles of flavour! Traditionally you would eat this with some madzoun (yogurt), but you can instead pair it with a refreshing tomato and cucumber salad!

Source:

Lena Tachdjian

Lena Tachdjian is a certified nutritionist and a writer, who splits her time between Canada and Armenia. She writes about nutrition, health, food, recipes, culture, travel, animal rights, and more. You can follow her on her nutrition and travel blog http://thetravelingchamelian.blogspot.com

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