A Turkish style Stuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe that is ready in about an hour. Stuffed with ground turkey, rice, and warm bold spices, then served with a homemade Ghanaian tomato sauce. These rolls make a wonderful centerpiece for supper.
These classic Turkish style rolls are perfect during the cold days. This recipe has a different version in Sweden called “Kaldolmar”. Legend has it that the King of Sweden Charles XII stayed at the Ottoman Empire for 6 years during the 18th century.
When the King returned to Sweden, he took some chefs from the Ottoman Empire with him. Therefore, after his return, the Stuffed Cabbages became popular and are still popular in Sweden today.
History of The Dish
This recipe is a simple recipe to make. It is ready in about an hour once the cooking time starts. It serves well with a crispy garden salad, lemon and olive oil dressing.
It can also be served with two amazing garnishing: garlic yoghurt sauce which we have added the recipe in the recipe card and brown butter. The perfect combination!
Stuffed cabbage rolls have been around for a very long time. Their popularity is due to the ease of making them and the easy availability of the ingredients in grocery stores near you. The dish involves filling cabbage leaves with rice and ground turkey meat.
The stuffed cabbage rolls go well as an appetizer or a dinner meal. You can also feed many people with this dish, provided you have the right sauce to go with the rolls.
It is important to mention that this dish is popular in many parts of the world.
The stuffed cabbage roll’s sole origin cannot be established. However, it has a different history or origin story in each region where it is popular.
For instance, many people have attributed the dish to Jewish culture. The Jews called the dish Holishkls, and the Jewish variant of the dish has a history that dates back to 2000 years ago.
Historical records show that the Jewish variant of the dish originated in Eastern Europe. However, some records showed that the dish started in the Middle East before trickling down to Eastern Europe.
Regardless of the origin, the Jewish variant of this recipe is used to celebrate the fall festival, such as the Simchat Torah. This festival signifies the start of a new Torah cycle.
Apart from the Jews, some records showed that stuffed cabbage had a history related to Scandinavian cuisine.
The story was that the dish was one of the things that King Charles XII brought back from his exile in Moldavia in the Ottoman Empire. This exile happened during a military mission in the 18th century.
In commemorating the king’s death, Swedes use stuffed cabbage rolls to Kaldolmens dag (which translates to Day of the Cabbage Roll) in late November.
The stuffed cabbage rolls are served with boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam.
Other countries or cultures that have their variant of the stuffed cabbage rolls include Poland, where it is referred to as golabki; Egypt, where it is known as Mahshi Kromb; Romania, where it is known as Sarmale; and Ukraine, where it is known as holubtsi.
Ingredients for Making Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
The following are some of the ingredients needed for making the stuffed cabbage rolls. The full recipe with the exact measurements is listed below in the recipe card.
Cabbage: Ensure that the cabbage has a medium-large head. Be sure that the leaves are large enough for rolling.
Rice: This could be white rice, brown rice, or even cauliflower rice.
Ground Meat: Traditionally ground Lamb is used to prepare this dish. If you do not have ground lamb, ground turkey as used in this recipe, ground beef or chicken will work.
Diced onions, Herbs, and Tomato Paste: These ingredients will add freshness to the meat.
Dolma Spice: This is the ideal spice to use to make stuffed leaves recipes. This spice with leave you with a bold and flavorful dish.
Ghanaian Tomato Sauce: For a twist to this classic Turkish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe, it pairs exceptionally well with the Ghanaian Tomato Sauce. However, these rolls also work well with garlic yoghurt sauce and brown butter.
How To Remove Cabbage Leaves?
Removing the cabbage leaves from the cabbage head is simple. Begin by slicing off the end root, then carefully peel the leaves off away from the cabbage head while avoiding tearing.
Sometimes tearing may occur, submerging the cabbage in hot water will help to loosen up the leaves, making it easier to tear off.
Although there’s no baking involved in this recipe. If you choose to do so as an option, there are no hard and fast rules to follow when it comes to preparing the final stage of your stuffed cabbage rolls.
It is best to prepare the sauce. After stuffing and rolling the cabbage, place the rolls in the sauce (in a baking dish) and bake (covered) for at least one hour.
Be sure to check your dish every 30 minutes for doneness.
Can You Make These Vegetarian?
Yes, making these stuffed cabbage rolls vegetarian is as simple as omitting the meat. Simply stuff your cabbage leaves with any combination of herbs, white or brown rice, and vegetables instead of meat. Mushrooms are often a great substitute to meat.
- To keep this dish as authentic as possible, use Ground Lamb. If you do not have ground lamb, ground beef, turkey or chicken will work.
- If making this dish vegetarian, consider stuffing your rolls with walnuts, raisins, herbs, pine nuts, tomatoes, and chestnuts. Feel free to get as creative as you like!
- You can store cabbage rolls for 8 hours before baking them.
- Before rolling up the cabbage leaves, you need to cut out the thick part of the cabbage leaves. This is best done using a paring knife to make a V-shape cut at the bottom of the cabbage rib.
- During the baking process, ensure to have the cabbage leaves down by the seams in the baking dish.
Storing the stuffed cabbage rolls can be a bit tricky but can be done! We do not recommend you let the cabbage rolls sit at room temperature for more than two hours. But it is also not advisable to freeze cooked cabbage rolls.
The cabbage can sometimes fall apart and will not last long.
After cooking, allow your dish to cool down, then transfer the remaining in refrigerator safe container. It will last in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Be sure to Drizzle the rolls with olive oil to prevent them from drying out.
To freeze the stuffed cabbage rolls, drizzle them with olive oil, place them in a freezer bag or freezer safe container, and freeze them for up to 6 months.
After trying this stuffed cabbage recipe, try this stuffed grape leaves recipe next.
It warms our hearts to see the recipes you make from this site, and we’d especially would love to know if you tried this recipe.
Also, we would appreciate if could give it a star rating below!
How To Make Turkish Style Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Large Casserole
- 1 medium white cabbage
- 1 lbs ground turkey any ground meat preferred
- 1 small white onion
- 2 teaspoon dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoon dolma spice mix
- 2 cups rice
- 3 tablespoon canola oil olive oil is a healthier substitute
- 4 tablespoon tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 cups of water divided in thirds
- 1 lbs Greek or Turkish yogurt
- ½ lemon
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make sure to remove the first layer and start by washing the cabbage and cutting it in half to make it easier to remove the leaves without breaking it.Start to blanche the leaves by first boil water with salt add cabbage leaves for about 1-2. Cabbage color should be vibrant. Remove from boiling water and place in icy water immediately. Remove from water and set aside. Next minced the onions. In a bowl, wash the rice and drain in a sieve (do this until water is clear). In a bowl, mix the ground meat and rice with all the seasonings (onions, dill, parsley, dolma spice, tomato paste, oil, salt and pepper). Use your hand to mix all the ingredients.
- Fill inside the leaves with the mixture and roll tightly and place in casserole. Make sure the opening of the rolls are placed against the casserole to prevent them from opening during the cooking process. Add water until the rolls are covered half of the way. Cook in low heat for about an hour or until rice is fully cooked. Remove from water let it rest for about 5 minutes and serve with yogurt sauce.