A Taste of Greece: Sarmadakia

Sarmadakia or Dolmadakia are tiny handmade stuffed vine leaves that you can find it in many variations all over Greece. In Thassos and Northern Greece they make them small and with no minced meat in them. Truly mouthwatering!  They’re definitely one of the most popular meze dishes in the country.

Ingredients

  • 250g vine leaves 
  • 400g white rice (Carolina rice)
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 2 bunches spring onions, chopped 
  • ½ bunch dill, chopped 
  • ½ bunch parsley, chopped 
  • ½ bunch mint, chopped 
  • 2 lemons, juice & zest 
  • 200ml olive oil (for the filling) 
  • 200ml olive oil (for cooking) 
  • salt and pepper

Warm water to cover the Sarmadakia in the pot

Method

Before you start, if the vine leaves are fresh, scald them in boiling water for 3min to soften them. If they’re preserved in brine, put them in cold water to eliminate their alkaline taste. Strain them well before using.

Separate about 12 leaves (the biggest and roughest) and set aside. You’ll need them later.

Mix in all ingredients apart from the lemon juice and the olive oil for cooking.

Put a vine leaf on a flat surface – the root of the leave must be facing up.

Put a tablespoon of filling in the middle.

Fold the right & left side and roll it, forming a small cylinder. *Tip: Use the torn leaves to mend the ones that may have holes.

Put them in a baking pan or plate until they’re all wrapped.

Oil a large pot and cover its bottom with half of the leaves you’ve kept aside. This way you create a protective layer under the sarmadakia so that they won’t get burned. Don’t skip this step.

Put the sarmadakia in the pot, one next to the other in circular rows.

Make sure you leave a little bit of space between them, to allow water circulation.

Add the juice of lemon, the olive oil and put water up to half the pot.

Cover the surface with the remaining leaves.

Cover with a ceramic plate to keep them steady, so that they won’t break as they boil. Don’t skip this step.

Add the rest of the warm water to cover up to half of the plate.

Cook on low heat for 60 minutes.

Let them cool down and then remove the layer of leaves.

Tip: They pair well with strained yogurt, tzatziki, tirokafteri or feta cheese.