Let's be honest: When you think of cabbage rolls, are you mentally in the kitchen of the Levant? I'm guessing not. But the Levant also has this delightful classic up its sleeve. Lebanese cabbage rolls are proof that there is also fantastic home cooking on the Mediterranean, which can even be cooked regionally and seasonally worldwide.
A cabbage to wrap them all!
If I had to compare the different versions of cabbage rolls, I would say that the Lebanese cabbage rolls are rather light and fresh. They still give me that certain homey feeling of warming home cooking. The cabbage rolls are filled with a mixture of ground meat and round grain rice. If you don't eat meat, you can of course go for the vegetable alternative. The delicious rolls are then cooked in a fresh and fruity tomato sauce with dried mint and a good portion of garlic.
The biggest hustle I have with Lebanese cabbage rolls is the cabbage itself. I basically always make the wrong decision when it comes to the size of the pot. There I like to rödle in the cupboard and bring out umpteen pots and try in which of them I could probably pre-cook the cabbage best. No kidding, I sometimes get so grumpy that I even try to put the cabbage head into a pot that is obviously much too small. No idea what's going on inside me. But never mind - the cabbage has to be precooked and then broken down into its individual leaves.
Cabbage wrap or cabbage wrap?
Then, after the cabbage is in front of you in individual leaves, it's time to stuff and roll them. By the way, the Lebanese cabbage rolls are called Malfouf Mahshi - "stuffed cabbage". Which I think the name of the cabbage is somehow beautifully fitting. Malfouf, after all, means "wrapped." So a vegetable that wraps around itself.
Back to the cabbage rolls. So then when you have a cabbage loaf like this in front of you, you can just put some filling in the middle, fold in the sides, and then just roll it up from the bottom to the top. Tadaaa - you have rolled a roulade. Congratulations! Basically, this is all really super easy, but does take some time. But it's definitely worth the effort! Once you've wrapped all the cabbage rolls and layered them in the pot and everything starts smelling great, you're going to be so happy. I run then in any case always with a drool thread in the area around ...
Quite classically, a blob of plain yogurt is served with Lebanese cabbage rolls. I've used the yogurt here directly as a base for serving. If you like, add some chopped parsley and your feel-good meal is ready. Bon appetite!
Recipe for Lebanese cabbage rolls | Malfouf Mahshi
For the cabbage rolls
- 1 White cabbage
- 500 g Ground beef or vegan ground beef
- 100 g Round grain rice
- 4 Garlic cloves
- 1/2 TSP Cinnamon
- 2 TSP Salt
- 1 TSP Pepper
- Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage, cut out the stalk and wash.
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot and blanch the cabbage in it. You can then peel off the outer leaves every 1-2 minutes and rinse in cold or ice water. Repeat this process until there are no more leaves left.
- Mix minced meat with rice, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
- Place ground meat mixture on a cabbage leaf, folding in the bottom side first, then folding over right and left and rolling up rather thinly. If the leaves are too big or stalky, you can cut off the bottom part. Save the offcuts.
- Peel the garlic and press firmly.
- Cut cabbage and remaining cabbage into small pieces and line the bottom of a large pot with them.
- Layer cabbage rolls on top of the leftover cabbage and spread the pressed garlic cloves in between.
- Mix strained tomatoes with water, olive oil, lemon juice, spices and dried mint and pour over cabbage rolls.
- Weight down cabbage rolls with an inverted plate, place lid on pot and simmer over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes.
- Serve cabbage rolls with a little yogurt.