Last Updated on June 4, 2022
Lebanese Cabbage Rolls (Malfout Recipe)
If you are a fan of stuffed grape leaves or Dolma, you ought to try this stuffed cabbage rolls recipe. In Arabic, it’s called “Malfouf” which has a dual meaning of “cabbage” as well as “rolled.” It’s also called “Mih-sheh Malfouf” which means stuffed cabbage.
Mih-sheh Malfouf Recipe
Malfouf is a traditional Lebanese dish which involves rolling cabbage leaves with a stuffing of ground meat, rice, 7-spices (of course), then stacking them in a cooking pot in layers with garlic in between, and then simmering them on low heat in a sauce made with lemon juice, fried minced garlic, water and salt.
Lebanese Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Meat and Rice (Malfouf Recipe)
Variations Of Lebanese Cabbage Rolls
Other variations of this recipe in the traditional Lebanese cuisine can be made with Swiss chard leaves instead of cabbage, which would then be called “sleek mih-sheh” meaning “stuffed Chards.” But that’s for another time.
How do you make Malfouf (Cabbage Rolls Lebanese)in Arabic?
The making procedure of the Mih-sheh Malfouf along with recipe is given below.
How do you roll Malfouf?
In the pot you will be using to cook, place a few leaves. Add a small amount of filling to each leaf. Create a cigar shape out of it. Add as many malfoufs as you can.
Lebanese Rolled Cabbage Leaves with Meat Stuffing - Warak Malfouf
- 1 head cabbage 4 lbs
- 3/4 lb lean ground beef
- 1 cup rice raw, rinsed, dried
- 3 heads garlic peeled, chopped
- 4 lemons freshly squeezed
- 2 teaspoons Lebanese 7 spices
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Salt
Preparing the Cabbage Leaves
- Peel and discard the outer leaves of the cabbage.
- Carve and pit out the large stem from the bottom of the cabbage as in the photo above. This will help the leaves separate easier.
- To separate the leaves, simmer the entire cabbage head in a large pot of boiling water for 5-10 minutes while carefully turning it over to ensure exposure to all of its sides. Turn down the heat.
- As the leaves loosen, pin down the cabbage inside the pot with one fork, and with another fork slowly peel away the leaves one after the other while placing them in a colander to drain. Be super careful with the hot water. Repeat until all leaves are separated.
- Once you've separated all leaves, try to roll one or two of them to see if they are soft enough. If not, or if they tear, put them back in the boiling water pot and cook them for another 5-7 minutes.
Stuffing and Rolling the Cabbage Leaves
- In a bowl, mix the ground beef with the raw rice, 7-spices and salt.
- Lay cabbage leaf flat on a cutting board, cut out the bottom stem if it's too thick. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of meat stuffing along one edge of the leaf. Gently but tightly roll over the meat all the way.
- Line up the rolled leaves carefully in a wide/deep cooking pot while compacting them tightly side by side.
- Once you've completed one layer of rolls in the pot, garnish with a bit of chopped garlic then on to packing the second layer on top.
- Repeat the process until all rolls are tightly packed in the cooking pot into perhaps 3 or 4 layers.
Cooking the Cabbage Rolls
- In a frying pan, sauté 10-15 cloves of freshly minced or crushed garlic (one head) with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice until they start to turn light brown. Add the entire frying pan content on top of the cooking pot.
- Squeeze 4 lemons, mix them with 4 cups of water, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste), then add them to the cooking pot. The sauce should cover the rolls and if not, add more water until it does.
- Carefully tilt the cooking pot sideways a few times to ensure the sauce seeps through between the rolls and that the fried garlic juice mixes well with the sauce.
- Place a heavy ceramic plate on top of the rolls to keep them tight. Cover the pot, place on high heat until it reaches a boil.
- Turn heat down to simmer, and let slowly cook for 1 to 1.5 hours or until the cabbage is fully cooked, softened, and is no longer crunchy . Make sure you don't let the pot dry of sauce or the rolls will burn. If the sauce level gets too low, add a bit more water mixed with lemon juice and salt.
- Serve hot with an optional side of plain Greek yogurt and an optional squeeze of lemon juice.
- You may end up with tiny leaves that can't be rolled or with other fragments from the cabbage head. Don't throw them away. You can make a nice spicy saute of cabbage and onions called "Marshousheh" which is a Saute of Cabbage and Cracked Wheat.
- A 4 lbs cabbage head should yield around 30-35 rolled cabbage leaves depending on how big the leaves are.