• 1/2-1 cup raisins, soaked in water or rum
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white rice, washed
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coriander, ground
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 jar of preserved or pickled vine leaves
  • fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Lozovi sarmi, or vine-leaf dolma.

Directions

  1. Soak the raisins in lukewarm water or, if preferred, in some rum.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and heat it up for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the finely chopped carrot and the rice, and fry for 1 more minute, stirring to coat it well with the oil.
  4. Add a pinch of salt to taste, but less than the usual quantity you use, because you want the sarmi to be neutral in taste and not too salty. Add also from the tip of a teaspoon the cinnamon and the coriander, and pour in the macerated raisins. Mix well with the rice and remove from the heat.
  5. Take the preserved whole vine leaves out of the jar and unroll them onto a plate. You might want to rinse them under cold water if they were pickled and very salty.
  6. To make the sarmi, take each vine leaf and put 1 tbsp of the rice mixture in the middle of the leaf. Fold in the sides of the leaf towards the middle, over the rice filling. Then roll it up into a tight roll towards the tip of the leaf.
  7. Place the vine-leaf rolls close together in a baking dish. Once the dish is full, pour enough lukewarm water in it so that the rolls are 3/4 soaked in water.
  8. Heat the oven at 180°C (350°F). Cover the baking dish with a piece of aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Bake for about 50 minutes until the rice is well cooked and all the water is absorbed.

Serve the vine-leaf sarmi warm with a few drops of lemon juice. Some people like experimenting with a béchamel sauce or a garlic and yogurt sauce, but these tend to cover the subtle sweetness of the spices. As an alternative, you can serve the vine-leaf sarmi cold as an appetizer, or mezze.