Stuffed winter greens or Swiss chard with ground meat and rice – Kis Sarmasi
Serves: 4 -6
  • 2 bunches (about 400 gr) Winter greens with large leaves or Swiss Chard
  • For the filling:
  • 225gr/8oz/1 cup ground beef or ground lamb (ground turkey works well too)
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, grated
  • 110gr/4oz/1/2 cup long grain rice (or whole grain basmati rice for gluten-free option)
  • 45ml/3 tbsp. flat leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon, 200 ml/ 1 cup (or little more) water and 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil for cooking
  • Tomato/red pepper paste sauce:
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste or tomato paste (for milder taste)
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 60ml/ 4 tbsp. water
  • Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to sprinkle (optional)
  • Garlic yoghurt sauce:
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed in sea salt and finely chopped
  • 8 fl oz./1 cup natural plain yoghurt
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. dried mint (optional)
  1. Large leafy greens like Swiss chard is ideal for stuffing, making sarma.
  2. Bring a pan of water to boil. Cut the stalks of your winter greens (if you’re using Swiss chard, you may need to cut the stem and separate from the leaves).
  3. Refresh the wilted leaves in a bowl of cold water
  4. Place the fresh, trimmed leaves in to the boiling water until they wilt, for about 25-30 seconds. Drain and refresh the leaves in a bowl of cold water, this will help retain their color. Then drain the leaves and spread on a tray, ready for stuffing.
  5. Place the filling ingredients in a bowl and knead well.
  6. Grate the onion and put with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and bind them all with 1 tbsp. olive oil and knead well.
  7. Lay one of the leaves on a flat surface and place 1 tbsp. (depending on the size of the leaf, adjust a little less or more but avoid over filling) of the stuffing at near end of the leaf (towards you). Bring the top end of the leaf over the stuffing.
  8. Now fold in the sides and then roll into a tight log. Repeat with the remaining filling and leaves.
  9. Arrange the stuffed leaves, seam side down, in a wide, deep pan. Pack them quite tightly in circles, this will keep them intact. You may need to make more than one layer, depending on the size of the pan.
  10. Mix 200ml water with the juice of lemon and 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour over the stuffed leaves. This liquid should cover at least half way up the top layer; add some more water if you need to. Season with salt and place a wide flat plate over the rolls (so that they stay intact).
  11. Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium. Once it starts to bubble, cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked and the rolls are tender.
  12. While the rolls (sarma,as we call in Turkish) are cooking, prepare the garlic yoghurt. Simply combine the chopped garlic with yoghurt and mix well. You can season with sea salt and ½ tsp. dried mint, if you like.
  13. For the hot pepper paste (or tomato paste) sauce; stir in 1 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a small pan, over low heat. Stir and pour 4-5 tbsp. water, gently simmer for a minute. Season with salt and ground black pepper if you like; the sauce is ready.
  14. Drizzle the hot pepper paste sauce over the cooked rolls and sprinkle a little Turkish red pepper flakes (if you like) and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt aside.
Recipe by Ozlem's Turkish Table at