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Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, also known as Mahshi Malfouf is a dish made with blanched cabbage leaves, stuffed with seasoned ground beef, tomatoes and rice; Simmered in a rich tangy tomato sauce and topped with garlic cloves.
Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
OK, I have to admit… My mom in law makes the best Lebanese Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in the world! This has always been my favorite recipe. And here, I confidently share with you
my mother in law’s my recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls! In Arabic, we call this recipe Mahshi Malfouf , which translates stuffed cabbage in English.
If you love my Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini Recipe, you should try these Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. The recipe uses the same stuffing, but with cabbage leaves instead of zucchinis.
Lebanese cuisine is well known for stuffing vegetables recipes. Name a vegetable, and I’ll find you the recipe for stuffing it; like Kousa bil Laban- Stuffed Zucchini with Yogurt Sauce, Lebanese Beef Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms, Sheikh el Mahshi- Stuffed Eggplant, Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves and Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini- Kousa Mahshi.
How to Make Lebanese Cabbage Rolls- Mahshi Malfouf:
(Scroll down to recipe card for a printable option and exact the ingredients.)
- The first step is to prepare your cabbage, by carving out around the root and removing it, making sure to go as deep as you can. Carving the root out allows the cabbage leaves to loosen up easily.
- Then bring a large pot of water to boil, then add the carved head of cabbage and let it sit there for a eight to ten minutes on a each side. Then, using tongs, start to dislodge the cabbage leaves by lifting them away from the head and removing them one by one. If you come across a leaf that looks hard/rigid, leave it in the water for a few more minutes to soften, which will make it easier to roll.
- Place cabbage leaves in colander to drain.
- Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing mixture. In a large mixing bowl, add all the stuffing ingredients (ground beef, rice, salt, spices, butter, and diced tomatoes (I blend mine in the food processor) and mix thoroughly until well combined. Set aside.
- Next, prepare the cabbage leaves by cutting out the thick rib in the middle using a knife in a triangular shape. Save the cut out ribs to place at the bottom of pot.* See picture below.
- Then cut each leaf into two equal halves.
- Lay each cabbage leaf on a smooth surface. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of stuffing to each leaf, depending on the size. Spread the stuffing across the leaf leaving 1/2 an inch of space on both edges.
- Roll the cabbage leaf around the meat mixture. Don’t worry about folding the sides over, cabbage leaves don’t need that because they’re rigid and won’t leak any of the filling.
- Place the stuffed roll at the bottom of the pan, over the cabbage ribs, if you’d like.
- Repeat with remaining meat mixture and cabbage leaves.
- Add garlic gloves on top of the rolled cabbages. (You can cut garlic cloves in half or make them into thinner slices).
- Thin tomato paste and a sprinkle of salt with water (about 2 cups) and pour over the stuffed cabbages. You can also add a can of diced tomato sauce if you’d like and reduce the amount of water. The liquid should barely cover the rolls.
- Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 45-55 mins or until cabbage is tender and meat is cooked through.
- Serve with fresh squeezed lemon juice and enjoy.
How do You Get Cabbage Leaves Off the Head?
I’ve found the best method is to cook the head of cabbage first. Cut off the root end, then submerge your cabbage head in a pot of boiling water until the leaves are tender and can easily be peeled away.
Tips for Making Mahshi Malfouf- Mafouf Mahshi:
- Pick a medium size head of cabbage so you have large leaves to work with and extra leaves just in case.
- Don’t skip the step to boil the cabbage. It really makes all the difference when it comes to rolling these guys. It is almost impossible to roll a cabbage leaf that has not been blanched, since cabbage tends to be stiff.
- The ground beef does not need to be precooked.
- If you’re boiling the whole head of cabbage- slice the root end off about a 1/2 – 3/4’s inch up. This will make it easier to remove the leaves.
- Place the stuffed cabbage rolls seam side down in the pot.
- Lebanese Cabbage rolls can be assembled and stored covered in the fridge for up to 8 hours before you plan to cook them.
Can I Make Vegetarian Middle Eastern Stuffed Cabbage:
You can easily make these stuffed cabbage rolls vegetarian by substituting the ground beef for a parsley, tomato, mint and onion mixture. It’s the same stuffing I use for my Vegetarian Stuffed Grape Leaves and Vegetarian Stuffed Swiss Chard Rolls. You can also substitute the beef for chickpeas.