Recipe: Armenian Stuffed Grape Leaves (Yalanchi Sarma)

Serves 4-8 (makes 20)

This is a delicious variation on traditional stuffed grape leaves we see in supermarket salad bars. The Armenians make stuffed grape leaves without an intense vinegar brine. Instead, earthy cinnamon and currants carry the flavor. Just wonderful!


1 16 oz jar grape leaves
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced (about a cup)
1/2 cup basmati rice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp dried currants
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley


1. Boil grape leaves for 1 minute. Rinse under cold water and drain.

2. Saute onion in olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. After they begin to turn golden about 5 minutes), add rice, tomato paste, currants, and lemon juice. Cook for one minute longer.

NOTE: Currants are like tiny raisins

Left: Currant; Right: Raisin

3. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until just cooked, about 15 minutes.

4. Turn off heat. Add pine nuts, sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and parsley.

5. Stuff leaves in the following manner: Place leaves dull side up on a flat surface. Add 1 tsp filling on stem end. Turn the sides in and roll up into a burrito shape. Press leaf end into the roll. Refer to photos below for more details on how to stuff grape leaves.

6. Coat the bottom of a lasagna pan with grape leaves to prevent sticking. Fill with grape leaves, going up 2-3 layers as necessary. Refrigerate overnight if desired.

7. Place grape leaves in a skillet. Weigh down with a plate. Add enough boiling salt water to cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.

8. Remove from water carefully. Cool completely. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Opt In Image
Hungry for more?
Be notified when National Geographic releases my memoir.

Simply fill in your details below.


  1. I LOVE grape leaves. Just had some this past weekend at Leena’s at the Woodland Hills mall!

    Awesome pictures on making them!

    Thank you!

  2. I so much love this menu – allmyfav’s ! Susan

  3. Cookathon Show says:

    Buy stuffed grape leaves rolling machine from eBay..
    item # 170526953553

  4. Crystal says:

    Thank you so much for making these! I discovered your website recently and am excited to make these dishes for the first time from my culture, Armenian, and the other cultures you have on here! They look great!

  5. In my ongoing attempt to catch up to Sasha (who is already at the letter “Z” as I still cook “A” recipes), I cooked this dish tonight. It was really good. Grape leaves are a personal taste I know as they can be kind of thick, but aside from that the filling is amazing! Thanks Sasha for the photos of how to roll the grape leaves, and as always thanks a million for taking us in this trip around the world.

    I also made the Itch (not so successful on that one) and the Revani (awesome), but I’ll post comments separately on those recipes.


  1. […] Time and time again I’ve failed to entice Ava with stuffed grape leaves. I tried back when we cooked Armenia, when the grape leaves were laced with an intoxicating blend of cinnamon, allspice and currants and […]

Speak Your Mind