Binnur's Turkish Cookbook - Delicious, healthy and easy-to-make Ottoman & Turkish recipes

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Grape Leaf Rolls in Olive Oil

(Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarması - Ottoman Kitchen)

Grape Leaf Rolls in Olive Oil
~400 gr grape leaves, washed one by one

1 cup rice, washed and drained
4 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp currant
1 tbsp dry mint
1 + 1 1/2 cups hot water

Saute the onion with olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the rice and salt, stir and cover. Cook over very low heat until the rice looks almost see-through. Add the sugar, nuts, currants, mint and 1 cup hot water. Cook until all the water evaporates, stirring occasionally over low heat. Put aside and let it cool down.

Fill a large pot half way with water and boil. Add all the leaves in it and boil for about 2-3 minutes. Drain and cut off the stems (picture). The matte (not shiny) side of the leaf is the inside, that's where the filling will go. Grab a leaf and fold the top where the stem was as shown in this picture. Use a teaspoon to put filling on it (picture). First fold over the top (picture), then the two sides (picture) and roll to close it up (picture). Line up all the rolls in the pot side by side tightly, without any holes in between (picture).

Pour in 1 1/2 cup of water from the side of pot. Cover and cook over low heat until most of the water evaporates. Leave a little bit of water at the bottom, it will go away as it's cooling down.

After it cools down, place on a serving dish and serve with lemon slices on top. Keep in the fridge.

"Dolma" is a Turkish word which means "stuffed" in English. You can make "dolma" with pepper, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, fish, apple, etc.

"Sarma" is also a Turkish word means "rolled up" in English. You can make sarma with grape or mulberry, cherry, cabbage, swiss chard, kale, bean's leaves, etc.

So, sarma shouldn't be called dolma, they are different:)
Meal Ideas:
- Beef with Mushrooms and Creamy Pudding.



At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Binnur,

Your recipes are wonderful, however they are not user friendly for us foreigners, because your cooking times are not specified or very vague. For example, when you say, "Cook over very low heat until the rice looks almost see-through" ... do you mean about one or two minutes? 30 seconds? 5 minutes? Another example.."Cook until all the water evaporates".. well how long is this? 10 minutes? 15? 20? I asked a Turkish friend why is this so. I was answered, " well we all know about how long it is". OK, but if you are wanting to reach foreign readers, please realize that we don't know how long is " until the water evaporates", etc..

I am not trying to critisize, just making a point that if don't understand your recipes, we won't cook it. Please try to right your english recipes the way we can understand.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Trudy,
What you are asking for seems fair to me:)

"Cook over very low heat until the rice looks almost see-through". It
may be between 6 to 12 minutes. It is very difficult for me to give
you the exact time, which is why I don't do it. The time will vary
greatly depending on your stove, what kind of rice you're using, etc. Every type of rice absorbs water differently and cooks at different times :)
When you cook any kind of dish for the first time (foreign or not) you
should check often, how does it look at what times, is it cooked yetor not. This will give you an idea for the future times you prepare it.
"Cook until all the water evaporates" - same for this also. I am sure you cooked Pilaf before. How long did it approx take? Check the water once in a while with a wooden spoon. Stir, if there is no water in it, then the rice is done.
My recipes are for everyone including foreigners and first time
cooks... Please give it a try, but keep more of an eye on it the first
time you cook it... I am sure you will see that it won't be so bad :)


At 1:50 PM, Blogger Asli said...

Binnur Hanim

Ici hazirlarken biraz daha eksi olmasini istiyorsak, sekeri azaltip biraz limon suyu ekleyebilir miyiz?


Elinize saglik,

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Sevgili Asli,
Seker miktarini azaltmani tavsiye etmem, lezzeti bozulabilir:) Ben de limon ile cok severim. Daha eksi olmalari icin sarmalarin uzerine ince limon dilimleri koyup pisirebilirsin:)

At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have stayed in istanbul for little over a year. and i loved turkish food. before i hated Kale (kara lahana), but after i had kara lahana dolma, i absolutely loved it. will it be possible for you to post the recipe. would truly appreciate it. also, i love the recipes that you have posted on the net and have actually tried quite a few of them! Thanks, Sunaina

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Sunaina,
I am glad you like the recipes:) Sure I will post Kale Rolls with Beef
for you soon:)

At 6:14 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Merhaba Binnur, first of all I would like to thank you for your wonderful website and great variety of recipes! I tried your grape leaf rolls recipe and they turned out pretty well for my first try, but they were way too sweet. Do you really recommend 5 tbsp. of sugar? I felt like that was too much sugar. Do you have any suggestions for me? Tessekurler!

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Gizem,
Thank you:) While you have the rolls squeezed by lemon juice. The lemon juice ensures the balance.

At 5:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Binnur, Thank you for the recipe :-) If I were to make cabbage dolma, would the recipe stay the same? Also, do you cook the cabbage the same amount of time as grape leaves?

Thank you for all your wonderful recipies, Emilee

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Emilee,
Thank you:) All the ingredients, cooking style and time are the same. I've already posted the Cabbage Rolls with Beef in the Lamb & Beef section. It may help you cook cabbage rolls with olive oil:)
Take care,

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Binnur Hanim.
I tried all of your recepies and each turned out beyond delicious. For someone who never cooked while living in Turkey, really really enjoying Turkish meals through your recepies. Thank you from my heart as well as from my family.
Yaprak sarmasi is my daughter's favorite meal.
Oh, the stuffing is so delicious I make extra just so I can help myself while wrapping the leaves lol.

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Binnur,

I have been using your site to learn Turkish cooking. I am an American living in Turkey right now. Thank you so much for posting this sarma recipe. I learned to make a different sarma from my host Mom, she is from Tunceli. However, I am living on the European side of Istanbul now and most of my friends come from a different region than Tunceli area. So, they think my sarma is weird... it seems your sarma is what they are calling sarma. So, thank you. My only problem with the site is the disconnect now between the Turkish and English site. I am trying like crazy to figure out how to say 'pine nuts' in Turkish so that I can go to the Kuruyemis to buy some. :) I guess I could look and point. :)

Mutlu Kurbani Bayramlari!


At 10:07 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Heather ,
Actually both Turkish and English sites are connected each other:)
Just a click away from each other. And also all the ingredients are in the same order.
There is so many dictionaries on the internet, like;
One more tip. You can always ask any Turkish word to your Turkish friends. I am sure they will love to help you:)
Iyi Bayramlar!

~400 gr grape leaves,
washed one by one ~400 gr yaprak, tek tek yikanmis

1 cup rice, rinsed, drained......1 kap pirinc, yikanmis, suzulmus
4 medium onions, chopped....4 orta boy sogan, kucuk dogranmis
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil......1/2 kap sizma zeytinyag
5 tbsp sugar................................5 yk toz seker
2 tbsp pine nuts........................ .2 yk cam fistigi
1 tbsp current.............................1 yk kus uzumu
1 tbsp dry mint........................ 1 yk kuru nane
1 cup hot water..........................1 kap sicak su
Salt ............................................. Tuz

At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Binnur,

Your recipes are wonderful and easy to follow! I'm American and my husband is Turkish and he loves your recipes! And so do I! This stuff grape leave recipe turned out awesome just like the ones my husbands mother makes in Turkey:)Thank you so much for this site! And keep up the great work!


At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Binnur,
I had these at friend's house but I think she used bulgur instead of rice and she put some other ingredients. It was vegiterian and very tasty. Is bulgur version of grape leaf rolls a lot different from this recipe. I am planing to try your recipe tomorrow:).
Thank you

At 10:08 PM, Blogger Fatima said...

One more question, is "current" dried or fresh. Sorry, I never used it in cooking, just wondering where I can buy it.

THanks so much.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi Fatima,
Sure, you can use bulgur instead of rice in this recipe.
I use dry current:)
Take care,

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking for stuffed kale recipes. could i make stuffed kale the same way as this recipe? or would anything be different? do you currently have any stuffed kale recipes?
thank you!

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hello SM,
I've already posted the recipe, and more kale recipes are here:

I would suggest that you use the google search box on the right site of my blog, just below the google ads. When you select "TC", it will help you find all the recipes I have posted. You can also search for the word of any region, pilafs, vegetables, herbs, spices, meat, etc.
Take care,

Friday, April 05, 2013
Stuffed Kale Rolls with Ground Beef
(Karalahana Sarması - Black Sea Region)
Monday, January 27, 2014
Cabbage Rolls with Green Lentils
(Mercimekli Lahana Sarması)
Monday, March 11, 2013
Kale (Collard Greens) Salad
(Karalahana Salatasi)
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Collard Greens Dible with Fried Eggs
(Karalahana Diblesi - Black Sea Region)
Friday, February 10, 2012
Kale Soup
(Karalahana Corbasi - Black Sea Region)

At 7:36 PM, Blogger KRhodes said...


I love Turkish cooking but for the life of me can't find fresh grape leaves in America. I could find chard or kale pretty easily. What do you think is the best substitute, or which would you find the least different from using grape leaves?

Thank you!

At 10:43 PM, Blogger Binnur said...

Hi KRhodes ,
It doesn't have to be fresh, you can also use grape leaves in brine as well:) I've posted Cabbage rolls in Olive Oil and Swiss Chard rolls in Olive Oil with different filling.

Below are the links about them.
The same is valid for the kale leaves, too.

~Cabbage Rolls in Olive Oil

~Swiss Chard Rolls with Potatoes


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