Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, in Turkish Lahana Sarması, are one of the most famous dishes of Turkish cuisine. In general, it is known as winter food; however, the autumn season already arrived and we start to see cabbages at our local markets’ counters. There are various dishes made with cabbage in Turkish cuisine; such as cabbage stew, cabbage soup, cabbage börek, and stuffed cabbage rolls. Among all these, the stuffed cabbage rolls dish is by far my first pick.
There are various recipes for Stuffed Cabbage Rolls but two of them are the most popular ones in Turkish cuisine. The first variety is filled with ground (minced) beef. And, the second variety has no meat in it. White rice is the common and constant ingredient of both variations. Today, I am going to share with you the one that has ground (minced) beef filling in it.
The Health Benefits of Cabbage Vegetable
Besides the delicious taste; cabbage vegetable has many benefits in terms of human health. Cabbage throws toxins out of the liver, beautifies the skin, and removes excess water and toxins from the body. It strengthens the immune system and plays an active role in the treatment of cellulite. It helps us to feel more energetic in daily life.
The Origins of Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
The cabbage vegetable is widely grown in continental climate regions of Turkey. This vegetable has the long-term ability to withstand long-lasting conditions, especially in harsh winter conditions. According to the food origin researchers; the motherland of the cabbage plant is Eastern Anatolia and the world’s largest cabbages are grown around this region of Turkey and exported worldwide.
If you go to the western region of Turkey in the wintertime, you can see that most of the locals prefer to cook meatless cabbage rolls during the Mediterranean winter period because our western region locals like to cook meatless and olive-oiled dishes more than our eastern regions. On the other hand, if you go to the eastern region of Turkey in wintertime, you can easily notice that locals love to cook stuffed cabbage rolls with meat and most of the restaurants are offering various cabbage dishes.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 250 g ground (minced) beef
- 100 g long grain white rice rinsed & drained
- 1 white cabbage small size
- 4 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 onion finely chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp pepper paste
- 1 teaspoon mint
- 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking Liquid Mix
- 1 juice of lemon
- 1 cup hot water
First cut the cabbage in half vertically and take out the hearts. Put 1 liter of water into a large pot, add 1 tbsp salt and boil it. Put the cabbage leaves into this boiling water. The leaves should be tender and then rinse them under cold running water
Cut away the thick central vein and choose 25 to 30 pieces of cabbage leaves which are the size of your palm.
For its filling, combine all ingredients and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large bowl and mix them well.
For its rolling, get one piece of cabbage leave and lay it on a flat surface and then put walnut size filling mixture on it and roll it up.
Pour the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a deep and wide saucepan. Line up the cabbage rolls side by side. Mix the lemon juice and hot water and add a pinch of salt, and then pour over the cabbage rolls. The mixed liquid should come at least halfway up the top layer of rolls. Place a heavy plate over the cabbage rolls to prevent them from unraveling and close the lid. Cook 40 minutes at medium level heat.
After 40 minutes of cooking, remove from the heat and let the cabbage rolls rest for about 5 minutes.
Tip: Serve hot with plain yogurt by the side and lemon wedges to squeeze over.