Sarmale (Stuffed Cabbage) Recipe from Moldova

My first experience eating sarmale was in the homiest Russian apartment with my favorite Armenians in the world. This is a popular Eastern European dish, and today’s recipe is inspired by a dive into Moldova’s beautiful culture! Maybe I just have a bizarre love for cooked cabbage, but this dish was honestly one of my favorites during my seventeen months in Russia! And I had a lot of foods from a lot of different places in that time period! I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did.

Prep Time = 30 – 45 minutes       Cook Time = 40 minutes


1 1/2 cup long grain rice

1 1/2 lbs pork, diced

1 lb carrots, chopped

1 large white or yellow onion, chopped

5 Tbsp tomato sauce

1 Tablespoon dried dill weed

1/4 cup of a subtle oil- sunflower seed, vegetable, or corn

2 Tablespoons parsley

I medium cabbage


  1. If you’re like me, you can probably be happy with just about any kind of rice. In this recipe, I won’t dictate how you should do your rice. Minute Rice, Jasmine Rice, even Brown Rice is a favorite in our house. You can get crazy and mix it up a little. Just follow the directions on the rice bag/box, and you’ll be fine. It’ll be mixed in later.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of your oil of choice in a large pan, preferably a skillet, and add the onions, carrots, parsley and tomato paste. Cook until the vegetables are tender. If your rice is ready, add the vegetables in with the rice. Otherwise, put these in a bowl to the side.
  3. Heat 2 more tablespoons of oil and add the pork. Cook it through. Again, mix this in with the vegetables and rice, if the rice is ready. Add your dill now and stir the mixture.
  4. Peel apart your cabbage leaves gently  and bring to boil in a couple inches of water until they are soft. This should take about 10 minutes after the water boils.
  5. Remove most of the cabbage leaves, but leave just enough to cover the bottom of the pot. They will offer more flavor, and also keep your rolls from burning.
  6. On each of the cooked leaves, place a spoonful of the pork/vegetable/rice mixture, and then roll the leaf like an eggroll.

This was my first time cooking sarmale, and though my cabbage leaves fell apart when I tried to roll them, it tastes great and was so easy to do!

Enjoy this with your friends, family, neighbors, and don’t forget to tell them all a few new facts about Moldova, where your delicious meal was inspired! Then, be sure to share your experience below! Let us know any tips, tricks, successes, or funny failed attempts you may have!

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