I grew up eating Malfoof, which are stuffed cabbage leaves. There are so many different preparations for this dish dependent on the region. Almost every country in the Middle East has their own twist on it with various seasonings. European countries also make stuffed cabbage too! Today, I’m sharing with you my mother’s way.
In the Middle East, stuffing vegetables is very common as not only is it delicious but also inexpensive. The two most common are stuffed grape leaves (dawali) & stuffed cabbage leaves (malfoof). These are both a favorite of mine but in the colder months, I always find myself craving malfoof more. Cabbage leaves are also easier to roll than grape leaves since tucking in the sides isn’t necessary with malfoof. Typically, this dish is stuffed with minced meat and seasoned rice then set to simmer in a pot for several hours until the leaves are so tender they melt in your mouth! I always enjoy these with plain yogurt and lots of fresh lemon juice; they pair together so well.
Just like grape leaves, malfoof can be prepared days in advance and placed in the fridge then cooked the day desired. Leftovers can be stored in a smaller pot. Easily reheat by adding a small amount of water to the pot and warming it on the stovetop.
Malfoof (Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)
- 2 large Cabbage heads Green
- 1 lb Ground Beef (80/20) or Ground Lamb
- 3 cups Rice white long grain
- 2 small Tomatoes Finely chopped
- 1 small Onion Finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp Seven Spice
- 1/2 tbsp Ground Turmeric
- Salt & Pepper to taste Be generous enough with the salt
- 1/2 cup Olive oil
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste optional
- 1 tbsp Red pepper paste (shatta) optional
- Boiling Water
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 head Fresh Garlic
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- Create deep cuts with a sharp knife around the stem of the cabbage. This will allow for the cabbage leaves to fall off the core easily.
- In a large pot, add water 3/4 of the way and sprinle salt. Bring water to a boil.
- Gently place the cabbage head into the water and use a large fork to keep hold of the cabbage as it is placed under the water. The leaves will start to fall off within minutes. Grab them gently with a tong and place them in a large platter next to you.
- For the filling, mix together all its ingredients really well. If needed, add more seasoning.
- Next, prep your work station. You will need a cutting board and sharp knife along with the tray of cabbage leaves, the bowl of filling, and a clean tray for the stuffed cabbage rolls.
- First, place the cabbage leaf onto the cutting board and cut alongside the white stem in the center to form two leaves. Don't throw out the center but rather save it to saute later on and line the bottom of the pot with.
- Add 1-1 1/2 tbsp of filling onto one sidfe of each leaf depending on the size of the leaf.
- Roll it tightly and repeat.
- Set aside on the clean platter and repeat this step until all the leaves are stuffed.
- Saute an entire garlic head in 2 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of the pot that will be used to stack the leaves in.
- Once the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned, sprinkle salt & pepper. Add the extra pieces of the cabbage that was trimmed too. Mix together and cook for a few minutes. Shut off the heat and let the pot cool a bit for layering the stuffed cabbage.
- Begin stacking the cabbage rolls tightly next to one another in the pot on top of the sautted garlic and lefotver cabbage.
- Mix together the tomato paste, chilli paste, boiling water, cumin, and salt for the cooking liquid.
- Pour the liquid on top of the stuffed cabbage leaves ubtil they are just covered completely.
- Place a plate on top fitting to the pot. Bring to a boil then cover the pot and simmer for 2.5 hours until the cabbage is super tender. Serve alongside yogurt & lemon wedges. Enjoy!