Sarma is the most traditional Slavic food and is prepared as a starter meal for all celebrations. It is usually served after soup and before the main.
Pickled cabbage leaves (1 cabbage is usually enough)
750g mince meat (half beef - half pork)
2 handfuls Jasmine rice
1 red onion (finely chopped)
Pepper and salt
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
Half a garlic crushed
100g pancetta finely sliced into small pieces
1 egg (whisked)
Couple of pinches chopped parsley
2 table spoons flour (mixed with a few drops of water to create a paste like texture)
Smoked pork belly or pork leg
Separate the cabbage leaves and cut off the hard part at the ends. If the outer leaves are too big half them so that your sarma's are not too big.
Place rice in a small saucepan and fill with water and leave for half an hour. Drain.
In a large pan pour a bit of oil and add red onion and garlic and mix on medium heat until the onion is translucent. Leave to cool.
In a large bowl, combine mince meat and all other ingredients except for the flour/sweet paprika mixture. Mix well until all combined and you can smell all the flavours throughout. Place mixture in the pan and lightly cook until just brown. Return back to bowl and add drained rice. Mix well.
In a very large saucepan (5L preferably) pour 2L of water, place a few leaves of the cabbage in the water and add some salt.
Add about a tablespoon of the mince mixture onto each cabbage leaf and fold shorter sides first and then horizontally so you get a nice spring roll like shape. Continue until all of the mixture is used up.
Add the sarma into the saucepan with water, add the smoked pork belly or leg (1 big piece - this is to infuse the smokey flavour into the broth). Add more water if you need to, the sarma should be covered in water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 1.5 hours.
In a cup combine flour and sweet paprika add some water until you get a smooth paste. Add to the saucepan with sarma. You can also add some pasta tomato sauce. Keep on simmer for another 45 minutes or so. Do not stir.