Sogan-Dolma (Stuffed Onions)

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You know you’re Bosnian when you first chop up some onions and then decide what to cook for dinner. True that, true that. Majority of Bosnian meals contain word “stuffed” in it: stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchini, stuffed grape leaves, stuffed dough, stuffed cabbage leaves etc. But when you combine “stuffed” with those beloved onions you get the most authentic Bosnian dish. You can’t get any more Bosnian than that. This is it folks, the crème de la crème of stuffed things. I mean, isn’t it ingenious using the layers of onions as shells?
Stuffing onions is not as hard as it seems. Onions are first boiled until soft enough to be pried off, layer by layer. Each layer is then filled with the meat mixture and cooked again slowly at a low heat. We serve them drizzled with lemon juice, topped with a dollop of sour cream and a loaf of homemade bread on the side. This meal freezes well, so it makes sense to make a bigger batch. Onions lose they strong flavor by being cooked in vinegar water, becoming mild and sweet in taste. For dessert, I made another stuffed item – apples. I will post this yummy recipe soon.
In case you haven’t noticed, Bosnians LOVE to stuff stuff!


Makes 20-22 (about 5 per serving)
2 pounds Ground Beef
5-6 large Sweet Onions (like Vidalia, Walla-Walla or Spanish Onions)
¼ cup White Vinegar
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup Rice
1 Egg
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon Paprika, ground
½ tablespoon black Pepper
1 tablespoon Salt
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Sour Cream
Lemon Juice



Peel the onions and cut the ends. Tip: onions of the same size and shape ensure even cooking time.

Cut each onion lengthwise stopping half way through (see the picture below).
Place onions into a large pot, cover with water and add vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook until soft but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove the onions from the water and let them cool enough for handling.  They will look like this:

Combine ground beef, rice, egg, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Separate layers of onions by gently squeezing out shell after shell. Cover the bottom of greased large pot with the smallest pieces of onions and reserve some for the top. Fill onion shells with meat mixture, placing a small amount at one end of the shell and then wrapping towards the other end. Repeat until all stuffing is used. Don’t worry if some of the shells break. If you need to, use two shells to cover up the meat mixture, but you should have enough shells in general.

Layer onions in a pot placing them tight next to each other. Top with remaining onions (you really don’t have to use them all) and add enough water or stock to cover. If using water, season with salt, pepper and paprika or Vegeta (Bosnian dry spice mix found at Meijer’s international isle). Cover and cook for 45-50 minutes over medium-low heat. I prefer to thicken the sauce with a light roux, but it is not necessary. Roux is a mixture of equal parts of butter or oil and flour. Heat one tablespoon fat in a pan and then add flour. Stir until flour is incorporated and cook over low heat until light brown in color.  Mix in one tablespoon of tomato paste. Pour roux over onions within the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.

To serve, transfer the stuffed onions onto plates and pour with sauce. Serve with lemon juice and sour cream and of course good quality bread.


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publisher and creative director at All that's Jas
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates or purchase the full version below. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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3 Comment

  1. […] in this butternut squash barley risotto. I often use it in stuffed peppers, cabbage leaves, and stuffed onions. I like its nutty flavor and somewhat chewy […]

  2. […] in this butternut squash barley risotto. I often use it in stuffed peppers, cabbage leaves, and stuffed onions. I like its nutty flavor and somewhat chewy […]

  3. […] When I was a kid and a very picky eater as you can learn from my about page, I would only eat food that was visually appealing and this meatloaf was definitely one of those pretty dishes. Don’t you think? Besides, we love to stuff things like these stuffed onions. […]

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