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Monday, April 21, 2014

Roll It Up, Cook It Up, Eat It Up, Enjoy!

turkey sea kas garden patience sarma
Sometimes when you hitchhike you pray nobody is going to pick you up so you can enjoy the view little more
    Did you ever hitchhiked and didn't care is somebody going to pick you up or not? That thing happened to me once. It happens only on some really nice places. Mediterranean is full of those and hitchhiking tours around Mediterranean countries can last longer then expected. We were hitchhiking on Mediterranean coast in South-eastern Turkey. You are standing with your thumb up, white stone and olive trees on one side, sea and clear blue sky from the horizon line up on the other. Looking a little bit here, a little bit there and wish nobody ever stops so I can watch that scene for ever and ever.
turkey sea kas garden patience sarma
Each few kilometer ride gives you one more magnificent view
    Eventually changing one by one few kilometer ride, you reach your destination. Hippie getaway, antic archaeological site, sea turtle kindergarten, buzzing party town with tree houses all in one, Olympos, Turkey. We came there, pitched our tent, looked around and almost fell unconscious. Camp grounds and tree house pansions are in the valley with lemon and mandarin trees for shade, From each side of the valley there is a rocky mountain, and the valley follows small mountain river that goes through Roman archeological site, covered with moss and ivy vines. At the end of the road, view suddenly opens up to the beach where river ends up it's bumpy flow. It's a beach where turtles come to lay their eggs, and backpackers come to drink their beers and enjoy the morning sun after the wild party nights. If you swim close to the river mouth, you will feel drastic changes of water temperature with warm sea and cold mountain river colliding. Bloodthirsty fishes will bite your leg hair and even more bloodthirsty archeological site guards will ask you to pay the entrance into the site each time you wanna go to the beach (it's the only way).
turkey sea olympus garden patience sarma
Famous Olympus tree house pansions
    This natural wonder is little bit spoiled by thousands of backpackers partying there every day. Tree house pansion offer much commodity, two meals a day and a numerous excursion to near by natural sites, like eternal flames of Chimera. At one of those tree house pansions we decided to pitch our tent, so for the price we payed for, we got traditional (?!) Turkish breakfast and fantastic vegetarian dinner. While eating dinner I tried something that will totally change my look on traditional Balkan sarma dish.
turkey sea olympus garden patience sarma
To get to the beach you need to pass some mystical Roman ruins

    Sarma is a dish made of rolled cabbage, sauerkraut, wine or garden patience leaves filled with various stuffing that in Serbia is usually made from rice, mince meat and onions. In my country sarma is a festive dish, so people serve it on various happy occasions like: weddings, patron saint days, Christmas or Easter feasts etc. There are few ways to make sarma in Serbia, the difference is mainly in kind of leaves you will put the stuffing in and some additional stuff you put inside the pot while cooking it like smoked meat when you stuff sauerkraut leaves. In Greece and Turkey on the other hand they use various kinds of stuffing, so you can find authentic vegan sarma. In Turkey they call this dish Yalanci Dolma which means ''fake dolma (sarma)'' in English. Both Turks and Greeks use wine leaves roll the stuffing in. It's mainly eaten as a  meze and the stuffing is made of rice spiced with mint, lemon, sometimes tomato puree or pine nuts.
turkey sea olympus garden patience sarma
And fallow the cold mountain riverbed.
    First time I tried to make this dish I couldn't find any wine leaves around. I went to the market and bought garden patience leaves. It's a plant that grows literately everywhere, and people use it's leaves in Western Balkans to roll standard non-vegan sarmas. I didn't have much hope with this combination, but I was amazed with the result. Vegan Yalanci Dolma with garden patience leaves rocks!

turkey sea olympus garden patience sarma
Everything pays off when you see the beautiful beach at the river mouth. Only bad thing it's crawling with backpackers as you can see on this photo.
Ingredients:
-Garden patience leaves, you usually get around 10 when buying it on the market, since you make very small rolls (sarmas) with this leaves you should take 2 packs or 20 leaves,
-Brown rice (you can use white rice as well), one cup, 250g (8,8 oz),
-Onions, one big one,
-Lemon, you'll need one smaller or one half of a bigger lemon,
-Mint, black peppercorns, ground pepper, oregano, salt, thyme, water, ground pepper,
-(Optional) one spoon of tomato puree and some pine nuts.
garden patience sarma
First stage of rolling garden patience leaf sarma
1. Finely chop the onion and add it to the smaller pot on few spoons of pre-heated olive oil. Sprinkle some salt on it.

garden patience sarma
Cutting off petioles of garden patience leaves, which will use later to put at the bottom of the pot so sarmas don't stick
2. Wash garden patience leaves, cut the petioles off and cut the central vein from the back of each leaf, with the move that looks like cutting a fillet. This way leaves are not going to break when you roll them. If you want your garden patience leaves to be even more flexible, wash them with some hot water or soak them into the boiling water you are cooking rice with (step 3) for a few seconds.
garden patience sarma
Cutting the veins from garden patience leaf
3. Finely chop central leaf veins and add them to the onions when they become translucent, also add dry mint leaves, thyme, some ground pepper and if you decide to use tomato puree and pine nuts add them to in this stage. In the end you add the rice you washed before and one cup of water. Wait until it starts boiling, turn it down to the middle of the and put the lid on.       
garden patience sarma
Stage two of rolling garden patience sarmas
4. After rice soaks all the water, turn down the heat and leave it for some time to cool off. Take one bigger pot, pour little bit of olive oil in it, put in garden patience petioles and spread them around the pot's bottom.
garden patience sarma
Stage three of rolling patience leaf sarmas, now we just need to roll it from root to the tip of the leaf.
5. In this step you will roll your sarmas. Put garden patience leaf on chopping board with face side up. Put half of one spoon of rice on the approximate center of the leave. Fold both sides (left and right) of the leaf and then roll it from the root side to the tip. If you got cuboid looking roll with no rice stuffing falling out of it, you rolled your first sarma. Congratulations! :) After that lay it in the bigger pot. Do the same with all the leaves. When you put all the sarmas in the pot put extra stuffing (if there is some) on top.

6. Slice lemon thinly and put slices on top of the sarmas. Add a few black peppercorns, some oregano, more mint, thyme, salt, olive oil and pour two cups of water on top (0,5 liter, 1 pint).
 
garden patience sarma
Garden patience leaf vegan sarmas
7. Put bigger pot on the burner, first turn it to the maximum and after the water starts boiling turn it down to the middle of the scale. You should cook your sarmas until rice absorbs almost all the water. When there's only a little bit of juice left, turn down the burner and leave your sarmas covered for some time.

    These types of sarmas are served for meze, although you can eat it as a main dish as well. In Turkey and Greece people usually eat it with yoghurt which is the best option if you are vegetarian. If you are vegan it goes really nice with some fine cucumber salad with garlic and dill, tomato-onion salad etc.
garden patience sarma
Vegetarian Garden patience leaf sarmas with yoghurt
    This is also a great dish for followers of macrobiotic diet, it's totally in according to all macrobiotic standards, just skip adding tomato puree since tomato is a night-shade plant and considered too yin and use brown rice. You can also cut amount of lemon at least in half which will give much milder taste to the dish. 

    This is a spring dish, because garden patience is picked in spring time. Preparing this dish is a great fun and if you want to prepare some bigger amounts it's always fun to have some help from people you like to chill with. Also while making it is nice to have some cheerful spring music playing. I heard this song while watching first episode of Breaking Bad and since then became addicted to the song and the series both, enjoy your sarmas.

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