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Plate of stuffed cabbage rolls - lebanese style served with tomato slices

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Try this authentic Lebanese styled Stuffed Cabbage Rolls - also known as Malfouf - with step-by-step easy instructions to cook the recipe!
5 from 6 votes
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Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Arabic, lebanese, Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 171kcal
Author: Yumna Jawad

Ingredients

  • 1 cabbage head
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons 7 Spice or Cinnamon or All Spice
  • 1 cup short grain rice rinsed
  • 10 garlic cloves sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes sliced
  • ½ green pepper sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Instructions

Prepare Cabbage Leaves

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cut the core from the cabbage and place the cabbage in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • As the leaves loosen, you can place a fork in the core of the cabbage to hold it steady and use another fork or knife to gently separate the outer leaves away from the core one at a time. The leaves just need to be soft enough to be pliable without being too soft. The inner leaves may need to sit in the water for an extra few minutes if they are not soft enough.
  • Stack the cabbage leaves on a plate and set them aside. Make sure to cut any super large leaves in half and keep the smallest leaves or tough ones to line the bottom of the pot for cooking.

Prepare Stuffing (Hashweh)

  • Heat a large skillet with olive oil; add ground beef, season with salt, pepper and 7 Spice, and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add uncooked rice to the ground beef mixture and season with the remaining salt; mix well until everything is incorporated. You could alternatively not cook the beef and just mix it raw with the ingredients.

Stuff, Wrap and Cook

  • To stuff and roll the cabbage leaves, lay a cabbage leaf flat on a cutting board, scoop out 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture into the center of the cabbage leaf, and carefully roll it slowly and tightly, but without tucking in the corners. Squeeze the cabbage roll to help secure it and set aside. Repeat until all the stuffing has been used and place the stuffed cabbages on a tray. It should yield 30-35 rolls.
  • Line the bottom of a large pot with the small cabbage stems and tomato slices and season with cumin. Neatly arrange the stuffed cabbage in rows, alternating directions, to completely cover the circumference of the pot. Add the sliced garlic along with tomato slices, green peppers if using, and cumin.
  • Place a small round plate on top of cabbage in the pot to hold them down and prevent floating while they are cooking. You can also place a heavy pot filled with water to hold them in place
  • Add 6 cups of water to completely cover the cabbages leaves and the plate, then cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 30 minutes. You want most of the water to be absorbed (there should still be some at the bottom of the pot) and the leaves to be tender
  • Add the lemon juice on top of the cabbage leaves, then cook on low heat for an additional 45 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool uncovered for 30 minutes. Transfer to a dish and enjoy warm!

Notes

Recipe: There are so many variations of this stuffed cabbage recipe depending on the region adapted from. There is no absolute one way to make this dish, but this was the recipe passed down from my Lebanese parents.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are frequently asked substitution questions
  • You can use ground lamb instead of ground beef or a mixture of both.
  • Avoid using brown rice. If you use brown rice, you have to increase the cooking time by 30 minutes, which may result is overcooking the cabbage.
Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge. 
Make Ahead Tips: You can make the hashweh stuffing up to 2 days in advance. You can also prepare the cabbage in advance and store in the fridge.
Equipment: If you have a pressure cooker, the stuffed cabbage rolls can be made with that. Just pack cabbage rolls in the pressure cooker, add the water, close and cook for 15 to 20 minutes at the first pressure mark. Be sure to let them rest for 15 minutes before releasing the steam.
Nutritional Data: Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate only. It will vary based on the specific ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 242mg | Potassium: 420mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 539IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 3mg