Today, I’m excited to share with you this delicious, traditional stuffed cabbage rolls recipe that brings back memories of my time in Jordan. In the Middle East, stuffed cabbage rolls, or ‘Malouf’ as we call them in Arabic, are a delicacy often enjoyed for lunch or dinner. These stuffed cabbage roll, are cooked in a garlicky lemon broth for a light yet vibrant flavor. The cabbage leaves are stuffed with Heshwa. The Heshwa stuffing is generally made with rice and ground meat such as lamb, offering a flavorful blend that makes these cabbage rolls with ground lamb a favorite in many households.
This traditional dish has been savored in homes for generations, handed down from Mom to us! Simultaneously tasty and hearty, nothing can beat Malfouf, served steaming hot with freshly squeezed lemons. Cook this beautifully balanced blend of flavors at home and relish the comfort food you love!
A few variations of this recipe are made depending on the region. This is a simple recipe that I learned from my mom and aunts. Other versions may include sautéing the meat and then making the stuffing. Some people add tomatoes on the top or the bottom or even cook the stuffed cabbage with chicken or lamb broth! Experiment freely and personalize this dish. Give my other recipe a try – the lighter version of oven-roasted cabbage with tahini sauce. It won’t disappoint you.
Tips on How to Make the Best Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Turn the cabbage head in the simmering water a few times to ensure it is all cooked evenly.
- Pull away the leaves by cutting them with a knife or pulling them away from the core with long tongs.
- Get a colander ready with a plate underneath to place the cooked cabbage leaves once they are done. That way, they will quickly drain.
- Removing the stems is essential on the big leaves. You can use the knife to thin out the stem for the smaller leaves without cutting through. That way, there is no waste.
- The heart of the cabbage is my favorite. I stuffed the middle part of it and tucked it between the rolled cabbage, or you could save it and make it into salad later!
- Please make sure you do not overstuff the cabbage leaves. The uncooked rice needs space to expand. Unfortunately, you need to eyeball it and judge the amount of stuffing to add. How much you add will depend on the size of the leaves. For example, larger cabbage leaves need about a tablespoon of filling, while smaller leaves need half the amount.
- After cooking, let the stuffing rest, allowing the liquid to absorb and settle.
- You can add as many peeled or whole garlic cloves between the layers of stuffed cabbage as you want.
- If you have any extra stuffing, freeze it in a Ziplock bag.
- I use lamb for my stuffing but feel free to use beef or a mixture of both.
What kind of cabbage should I use for these cabbage rolls?
This recipe can use regular cabbage found in your local grocery store. I recommend picking a cabbage with wide, soft leaves since they can hold more stuffing. Choosing a cabbage with fewer stems on the outer layers is also better since it will be easier to fold and shape.
Can I make this dish vegetarian?
You can easily make these stuffed cabbage rolls vegetarian by substituting the meat mixture with a vegetable mixture with ingredients like tomato, parsley, onions, and rice. The vegetable mixture is similar to the filling of stuffed grape leaves.
Malfouf vs. Golabki
While Malouf is the Middle Eastern version of stuffed cabbage rolls, the Polish also have their golabki version. Golabki is similar in that it is also made with cabbage, ground meat, and short-grain rice; however, golabki is usually cooked in a tomato sauce.
What To Server With Stuffed Cabbage?
Serve these Middle Eastern stuffed cabbage rolls with complementary sides. A traditional Arabian Baladi salad pairs well. It’s a mix of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and parsley, with olive oil and lemon. This crisp, refreshing salad brings a bright contrast to the savory cabbage rolls.
Another everyday Middle Eastern salad to serve with this dish is Fattoush salad, which features crispy pita chips, fresh vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and a tangy dressing made with lemon juice, olive oil, and sumac.
For a Greek-inspired twist, you could serve the stuffed cabbage with a traditional Greek salad featuring juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and red onions, topped with crumbly feta cheese and a simple vinaigrette.
No matter which salad you choose, these flavorful and refreshing sides add a perfect balance of freshness and crunch to the rich and savory stuffed cabbage dish.
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Have you made these traditional Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Rice And Ground Lamb? Love to hear from you! feel free to drop me a comment below.