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Middle Eastern stuffed cabbage rolls, malfouf or malfoof is a hearty and delicious dish, and a classic in Middle Eastern cuisine.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: cabbage
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 1 minute
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 398kcal
Author: Farah Abumaizar


For assembling:

  • 1 head cabbage, bottom removed so that leaves come apart
  • 2 sliced tomatoes
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp dried mint
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 lemon squeezed, juice of
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • drizzle olive oil
  • drizzle pomegranate molasses, optional

For the stuffing:

  • 1.5 cups Egyptian or short grain rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 lemon squeezed, juice of
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp seven spices
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 0.5 lbs ground beef 250 g
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


To prepare the cabbage:

  • Place the cabbage leaves in a large pot of hot water. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes or so, until the leaves have softened enough that you'll be able to roll them easily. Drain, and set cabbage leaves aside. While this is happening, you can prepare your stuffing mixture.

To prepare the stuffing:

  • In a large bowl, mix together all the stuffing ingredients thoroughly until well combined and mixture is cohesive. You might find it easier to use your hands to work the meat through the mixture. Set aside.

To assemble and cook:

  • Choose a few cabbage leaves that are too stiff, torn, or too small too roll and use them to line the bottom of a large pan. Place the sliced tomatoes evenly on top of this cabbage leaf lining. The tomatoes will soften as they cook and are a delicious addition!
  • Lay flat all the remaining cabbage leaves. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of rice filling into the center of each cabbage leaf, and roll the cabbage leaf up. You don't need to tuck in the ends, just roll up to conceal the rice, squeeze to tighten, then place seam side down into the lined pot. Repeat with all remaining cabbage leaves and filling.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the hot water, the bouillon cube, the tomato paste, the dried mint, the lemon juice, and the whole garlic cloves. Pour this mixture over the stuffed cabbage leaves in the pot. The cabbage leaves should be nearly submerged in water, with the top layer maybe not fully underwater.
  • Drizzle the top of the pot with olive oil and pomegranate molasses, and place a small plate on top of the stuffed cabbage leaves to hold them in place while the water around them boils. Cover the pot with the lid.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 1.5-2 hours, or until cabbage leaves are tender enough to be cut with a fork, and rice is cooked through. Serve warm and enjoy!


For substitutions and storage instructions, see post above.
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Calories: 398kcal