|cabbage rolls/ lahana sarma|
Of course the concept of cabbage rolls or lahana sarma is typically Turkish but they wouldn’t be prepared in this way. These contain no meat so traditionally would be eaten cold or zeytinyağlı. These ones however are cooked with bulgur – most unusual as normally rice is used – and eaten either hot or warm as a main course. I love the simplicity of the ingredients: what is there after all? Only cabbage and bulgur with spices and fresh herbs. I found the specified amount of salt insufficient so add more at your discretion!
|pure pomegranate molasses from the Kastamonu Market:
The pomegranate molasses or syrup is a very important ingredient here. Apparently in Antakya, children pour it onto their olives and tomatoes as well as dip their bread into it for breakfast. A far cry from cornflakes! I think nar ekşisi can now be found relatively easily outside Turkey. Inside Turkey buy it from the local markets if you can: this is the season when the villagers make it. Otherwise there are all the commercial brands available in the supermarkets but they contain additives.
Of course the first challenge was the cabbage. Believe it or not, this was the smallest one my local greengrocer could offer me! It was a beauty but huge! When I was cutting it up the kitchen was awash with cabbage leaves. This was the hardest part of the entire procedure! There was loads left over which I have given away.
|my monster cabbage|
· Separate the cabbage leaves and plunge them, 5 at a time, for 3-4 minutes in boiling water. Drain and cool. Cut out any hard veins if necessary. If the leaf is very large, cut in half.
|what a splendid mixture|
|preparing the sarma, and the final cooked ones|
· Add just enough water mixed with the tsp tomato paste to cover the rolls. Cover the pan with the lid and cook over low heat for approx 25 mins or until the bulgur is cooked. (test a grain or two). Add more water if necessary.
1. Gently squeeze each sarma as you finish rolling so that the leaf stays in place. Trim the ends if they look a bit raggedy. You’ll find they retain their shape beautifully.