I·ATE: Do you know gołąbki, sarma or λαχανοσαρμάδες?


This week we want to introduce you to a classic Polish Gołąbki, an undisputed speciality of Polish cuisine. It is quite simple in preparation and it gives a lot of enjoyment. You can also find Gołąbki in different countries in Europe and in Asia. Do you know it? And do you know where is called kohlrouladen or λαχανοσαρμάδες? Whether you are Polish or not, this is a wonderful meal!

Food term_I-ATE Polish gołąbki

Gołąbki has a meaning in Polish and its translation means literally ‘little pigeons’ because of their size. They are prepared by filling white cabbage leaves lightly soft-boiled with stuffing made of rice and minced meat, which is served with tomato or even mushroom gravy. Gołąbki tastes best on the second or even third day. They are often served during the Christmas season and also on festive occasions such as weddings, family celebrations or other special occasions.

There is a Polish myth that holds that the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Casimir IV, fed his army with gołąbki before the key battle of the Thirteen Years’ War outside of Malbork Castle – the bigest Medieval castle in Poland –  against the Teutonic Order, victory thanks to the strength of this hearty meal. However, it is still not clear whether Poland owes its gołąbki to Turkish, Armenian or Jewish influences. They were apparently first served in the Eastern borderlands and this is how they have arrived to Poland. The picture below shows traditional Polish Gołąbki.

Polish Gołąbki

In Germany we eat kohlrouladen while in Sweden kåldolmar and in Findland we can find kaalikääryle. If we travel to Slovakia and to the Czech Republic we will eat holubky, in Lithuania we will ask a dish of balandéliai, in Hungary we will find a speciality called tölttöt káposzta while in Ukrania we can find some holubtsi and in Russia some Голубцы (golubtsy).

In Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Bulgaria we will eat sarma while in Romania and Moldova the same speciality is called sarmale. The more we travel the more food terminology we find! The picture below shows traditional Croatian sarma.

Croatian sarma

If we travel to Greece we will eat λαχανοσαρμάδες while in Turkey we will find lahana dolması or even sarma. In Egypt we can eat محشي كرمب (maḥshī kromb or maḥshī koronb) and it is literally translated as “stuffed cabbage”. The picture below shows traditional Greek λαχανοσαρμάδες and a Turkish lahana dolması.

Greek λαχανοσαρμάδες and a Turkish lahana dolması

Did you know that even in China they eat 白菜卷 (Bai Cai Juan) and in Japan ロールキャベツ (Rōru kyabetsu)? What about your country? How this food speciality is called? Let us know and enjoy your meal or as we use to say in Poland: smacznego!

Written by Olga Jeczmyk: Translator-Interpreter, Social Media and Content Manager as well as Communication and Terminology Trainee. Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg.


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  • Kasprzyk – Chevriaux, M. (2017). Polish Food 101 ‒ Gołąbki | Polish Cuisine w Culture.pl. Available at: http://bit.ly/2niFCOf (Accessed 17 Mar. 2017).
  • Lithuanian Balandėliai, J. (2017). Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls | Balandėliai [Recipe]. My Food Odyssey. Available at: http://bit.ly/2n7kQ3T (Accessed 17 Mar. 2017).
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