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Stuffed Cabbage With Lemony Rice and Sumac


With its crinkly texture, savoy cabbage is our go-to for stuffed cabbage, but the regular ol’ green variety also works. Both will become meltingly tender. The filling is a fragrant and tart mix of warm rice, buttery pine nuts, and lemony sour sumac. A dollop of sour cream is essential for balance (and pleasure).

Ingredients

  • 12–14 large savoy or green cabbage leaves (from 1 large head)
  • ¾ cup long-grain white rice (such as basmati or jasmine), rinsed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as parsley, mint, dill, and/or tarragon)
  • ⅓ cup chopped golden or brown raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. sumac, plus more for serving
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Ingredient Info

  • Sumac, a tart, citrusy spice generally sold in ground form, can be found at Middle Eastern markets, specialty foods stores, and online.

Recipe Preparation

  • Line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel or a few layers of paper towels; set aside. Working in batches, cook cabbage leaves in a large pot of boiling generously salted water until bright green and pliable, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer leaves to a bowl of ice water to cool; reserve pot of water for cooking rice. Transfer cabbage leaves to prepared baking sheet and let drain.

  • Return water in pot to a boil and cook rice, stirring often, until grains swell and rise to the surface, 3–6 minutes (depending on quality of rice). Bite into a few grains to test; they should be al dente (rice will finish cooking when baked inside the cabbage). Drain rice and rinse under cold running water to stop it from cooking further. Drain again and transfer to a large bowl.

  • Wipe out pot. Pour in ¼ cup oil and set pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 7–9 minutes. Add pine nuts and cook, stirring often, until nuts smell toasty and have slightly darkened in color and onion is almost jammy, about 5 minutes. Mix in herbs, raisins, and 2 Tbsp. sumac and cook, still stirring, until herbs have slightly darkened in color and are very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice; let cool 5 minutes.

  • Add onion mixture and egg to rice and mix well; season generously with salt and pepper. Wipe out pot; reserve. Working with 1 cabbage leaf at a time, cut out the thickest part of rib by making a thin V-shape; discard. Place 3 heaping Tbsp. filling in the center, running crosswise across leaf. Starting at the base where you cut the V, fold notched side of leaf up and over filling, then fold in sides and roll up leaf like a burrito.

  • Arrange cabbage rolls, seam side down, in a single layer in reserved pot. Add butter and ½ cup water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and steam rolls until filling is cooked through and leaves are tender, 18–25 minutes.

  • Divide cabbage rolls among plates; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sumac and pepper. Serve with sour cream.

Reviews SectionWe have made this recipe at least 4-5X. I've used any cabbage I could get my hands on, but its the best with savoy since the larger leaves help in rolling it up. We've subbed sunflower seeds and other fun fillings (or veggies) if anything was missing. It's definitely a delicious, and forgiving recipe!Priya PatelNew York City08/04/20Yum! I used collard leaves instead of cabbage and it worked fine. I also left out the egg by accident and didn't miss it!Great filling, which I followed the recipe exactly--though I agree with others that it is easily adapted to other filings/substitutions. An exceptional vegetarian main dish or a fun side.we’ve made this 4-5 times... each time with different herbs, sometimes with a little bit of minced meat mixed in.... always using kale because we have access to lots. It’s the perfect base recipe and concerned my apprehension of personal ability to stuff/roll. Thank you!AnonymousCoimbra,Portugal04/18/20I changed quite a bit with mine:6 HUGE green cabbage leaves.Cauli/brocolli rice instead of grain, sunflower seeds instead on pine-nuts, leeks instead on onions and didn't have any sumac, so just added a bit extra lemon and some cayenne and some crumbed feta into the rice mix.I cut into it and took my first bite, I was not expecting it to taste THAT delicious!!Was fun to make and will definitely be making again - its a great 'base' recipe to choose your own adventure.belleofbreeCape Town , South Africa04/05/20This recipe hits the mark - light, refreshing, citrusy with a sweet cronch. Killer filling. I subbed walnuts because that's what I had on hand. Ordered the linked sumac - worth it.The tip from the user below saved me! If you are using green cabbage, definitely cut from the bottom to keep the leaves from ripping. This is a good, simple recipe with lots of pantry staples that still feels super nourishing and is fun to make (and eat!).AnonymousIndiana, USA03/27/20This recipe was lovely, and a fun project during the coronavirus scare. I could only find green cabbage which worked fine. Highly recommend peeling the leaves off from the bottom of the head (near the stem) to keep the more fragile leaf ends intact. I used a very wide (12"), shallow heavy-bottomed pan to cook the cabbage rolls, which I needed to fit all of them in there side by side. Use the widest pot or pan you have! This was a very light meal, so you might want a side dish or appetizer to help fill you up.soapnanaChicago, IL03/17/20I look everywhere for Savoy Cabbabe...I guess it isn't in season. This dish was still a hit!muunbemePark City Utah03/04/20Flavors in this were great! I DID have to watch a video from a different source to figure out how to prep and roll the leaves, but I'll definitely be making this again!

What Is Sumac?

Use this slightly bitter, brick-red spice to add dimension to your meals.

Sumac is a pillar of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, but this wonderfully citrus-like spice should have a place in every kitchen. Made from dried shrub berries, this long-treasured seasoning gives incredible lift to whatever it flavors. Its uses range from being a key ingredient in flavorful Lebanese salad to cutting through the velvety fat in sausage-stuffed squash. If you&aposve just discovered sumac, there are a few things you&aposll need to know to make it your next favorite spice.

What Does Sumac Taste Like?

Sumac is often compared to citrus fruit in flavor profile, having a pleasant but powerful tang that lends brightness to any meal. It plays well with other spices, specifically strong, herbal options like sage, thyme, and mint. It can even be used to give a subtle edge to desserts. Equally beautiful and functional, this deeply-hued spice is valued for its versatility and boldness. And if you don&apost have sumac on hand, lemon juice, tamarind, and vinegar are acceptable substitutes.

Where to Find Sumac

Sumac is commonly found in the international aisle of grocery stores, and via online retailers like Amazon. Also look for sumac in Middle Eastern groceries that specialize in traditional ingredients like sumac.

Buy it: Cerez Pazari Ground Sumac ($5.39 amazon.com)

How to Use and Store Sumac

Sumac is a highly versatile seasoning that complements both smoky and herbal elements. Try it in a marinade for roasted chicken, as a bright pop of flavor in deviled eggs, or lightly dusted over popcorn. Its acidity helps to cut through fatty meat dishes and to temper sweetness in desserts with lots of fruit. Use it as a finishing seasoning or as the starring flavor — sumac works wonders wherever it&aposs sprinkled.

Store in an airtight container away from direct light to maximize shelf life. Doing so will result in a dynamic, colorful results for every sumac recipe you create. Your new spice should last you several months before needing to be discarded. Here are a few ways to start using sumac today:


Stuffed Cabbage With Lemony Rice and Sumac - Recipes

  • Home
  • Recipes
    • Hummus dip
    • Tabbouleh salad
    • Fattoush salad
    • Chicken, rice & cauliflower pot
    • Stuffed vine leaves
    • Stuffed cabbage rolls
    • Chicken with onions & sumac
    • Pasta with lentils & sumac
    • Okra & lamb stew
    • Vegeterian okra stew
    • Stuffed aubergines
    • Lentils and bulgur stew
    • Palestinian couscous
    • Stuffed pancakes
    • Partner organisation
    • Aknowledgements
    • Contact

    Everyone I met in Hebron spoke to me about this dish - it’s as old as anyone can remember and a favourite comfort food for many. Some call it raqaq u addas (which translates to noodles & lentils), others rushtayeh, or even ‘tutmaj’, a term I heard only in Hebron. It’s a warming dish, easy to prepare and perfect for vegans and vegetarians. If we want to be truly authentic, we should make the pasta from scratch, like Palestinian grand-mothers and great-grandmothers used to do. But nowadays, most people tend to prepare this dish with ready-made dry pasta.

    “When I travel outside [of Palestine], the first thing I say when people ask me about Palestinian life, I tell them about our delicious food, and people want to eat it.”

    This raqaq u addas recipe comes from Nareen’s family kitchen in Halhul, a town 5km north of Hebron. I first met Nareen in her house with my colleagues Ahmad and Nadim, who translated for us. Nareen is a warm and kind person. There is also something soothing about her demeanour so when she explained that she was a trained social worker and psychologist, I thought it fitted well. And like most Palestinians, Nareen is very proud of her food and she loves it. She told us that “when I travel outside [of Palestine], the first thing I say when people ask me about Palestinian life, I tell them about our delicious food, and people want to eat it.” In her view, the food they make is linked to their identity as Palestinians. And this is passed down from generation to generation. Nareen’s two daughters know that the dishes she prepares are Palestinian. “They’re smart, they know where the food is from”, she laughed. Her daughters often help her in the kitchen - it’s just the three of them in the house since her husband passed away four years ago. But they spend a lot of time with Nareen’s family.

    When I met Nareen the second time in her parents’ house, we spent the afternoon cooking, talking and eating with her family and my friend Mariam (who, as an is Australian-Palestinian, could translate for us). Nareen also took us to her family’s land on the outskirts of Halhul where they grow vegetables and fruits, including the famous Hebron grapes. It’s beautiful out there, the typical landscape that makes you fall in love with Palestine. It’s with Nareen that I learnt about the meaning of the Arabic word baladi. Baladi translates to 'my land', or 'my country'. So in Palestine’s food world, baladi refers to anything that comes from one's land, anything that grows locally. Nareen and her family value this above anything else and try to use food from their own land as much as possible. It’s not just healthier, there’s also a symbolism to it as it’s their own and not from Israel.

    This dish is one of Nareen’s favourite. “When I was pregnant I used to eat it every day. I love it”, she told us. Sumac is a key ingredient in this recipe - the burgundy spice is what gives it a unique Palestinian or Middle Eastern flavour. Nareen cooked her raqaq with fresh sumac from her land but it works well with the ground one you can find in most Oriental/Middle Eastern shops. Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice when it's ready to serve also brings out the sumac's tangy lemony taste.

    The firs photos are of the raqaq being cooked, the next ones of Nareen picking fruits on her land and the view from Nareen's family land in Halhul near Hebron


    Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F with the rack in the middle.

    Make the spice rub by combining the sumac, lemon zest, salt and white pepper in a small bowl.

    Rub the spice mix under the skin and on top of the pieces of chicken.

    In a roasting pan, combine the rice, pine nuts, berberis, turmeric, salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the rice is a beautiful yellow color. Press the rice down so it&rsquos pretty flat.

    Top the rice with the slices of red onion and lay the chicken pieces on top of the onions. Top each piece of chicken with a lemon slice.

    If you are assembling ahead of time and roasting later, this is the point you will want to cover the roasting pan with tin foil or lid and set in the fridge.

    Pour the stock around the chicken onto the rice. Drizzle the chicken with a decent amount of olive oil.

    Cover the roasting pan tightly with tin foil and place it in the oven. Roast for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue roasting for an additional 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the rice has soaked up all of the liquids.


    Dolma, the Armenian meal in a vegetable

    Ingredients

    The Vegetables:

    • Select an assortment of your favorite fresh vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage leaves – anything that can be stuffed. (The amount of vegetables will vary.)

    The Filling:

    • 1½-2 lbs. ground lamb (American lamb, if you can find it, is the best. Note: Ground beef, ground turkey, or a combination can be used.)
    • ¾ – 1 cup uncooked, long grain rice
    • ½ 6-oz. can tomato paste (diluted in 1/2 cup water Note: the rest of the tomato paste will be used in the sauce.)
    • salt, pepper, paprika (to taste)
    • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • ¾ cup chopped parsley

    The Sauce:

    • ⅓ cup dried sumac berries (Sold in Middle Eastern stores. Notes: 1 Tbsp. of ground sumac can be substituted. Sumac provides a lemony taste to recipes.)
    • 1 dash each of salt – and – sugar
    • ½ 6-oz. can tomato paste
    • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • 3 cups water

    Instructions

    Preparing the Vegetables:

    Filling Directions:

    Sauce Directions:

    To Assemble and Cook:

    To Serve:

    Notes

    Tried this recipe? Let us know how it was!

    Share This

    27 Comments

    And I can buy sumac berries — where in West Palm Beach area.
    — Jan Norris

    I am so excited to see this site though!
    I used to work in Hollywood. All my staff were Armenian, and for every birthday, the treat was the cake. There was always a spread–And if you could tell me what the name of the mushroom And Yogurt? Side dish dip was I will be so excited!

    In would come a classic double layer sheet cake, just like an American sheet cake–
    But, the filling was this crunchy, honeycomb like molasses crisp wonderful stuff- so in your cake bite there was always a crunch from the filling. I LOVE THIS STUFF!

    So–I am trying to find out what it is called, and if I am able to be gifted with this cake on my bday…. I need to tell my family what it is called and which is the best bakery in Little Armenia to get it.

    Can anyone help me?
    Cake is crucial-
    The mushroom dip would be an extra bonus!!

    Hi Lori. This is called honey cake. U can find it ready in any armenian bakery ir grocery store. Easiest city to find it in would be Hollywood or Glendale. ..as far as the mushroom dip you are referring to, you can find that in some armenian markets. Can't think of any off the topportunity of my head. But a Russian market called Rasputin, on Ventura Blvd in encino has it. And they make it quite tasty. Hope this helps! Cheers!

    Hi Lori. This is called honey cake. U can find it ready in any armenian bakery ir grocery store. Easiest city to find it in would be Hollywood or Glendale. ..as far as the mushroom dip you are referring to, you can find that in some armenian markets. Can't think of any off the topportunity of my head. But a Russian market called Rasputin, on Ventura Blvd in encino has it. And they make it quite tasty. Hope this helps! Cheers!

    Lori,
    Mushrooms aren't often used in Armenian recipes. Could the dip you mentioned have been made with eggplant perhaps?
    I'll do some research plus post your recipe requests. Maybe someone out there knows!
    Thanks!

    Lori,
    I think the dessert you described by taste and crunch (but not by appearance) is Baklava, made with very thin layers of dough, crushed nuts, honey). It's often cut in diamond/diagonal pieces. It should not be difficult to find as you also would see it in Greek bakeries.

    Like Robyn, I'm not familiar with the mushroom/yogurt dish, but I grew up with a common yogurt/cucumber dressing.

    Hope this is on target and not too late for your birthday!

    The cake that she's referring to is not baklava it's a white sheet cake called beze…it's make with whipped egg whites and nuts

    Anonymous,Would you happen to know of a recipe for this cake?

    all AZERBAIJAN and TURKISH meal

    Armenian food is delicious.

    Really, are you still fighting about what country the recipes belongs to? Get over it. The recipes belong to them all. Why not talk about important topics, like peace and getting along with your neighboring countries. I'm just saying… Love this site, by the way.

    Thank you for the recipes! Tonight I stuffed bell peppers, an eggplant, and a few tomatoes. This is going to take me more than a few tries to get the technique right. The sauce boiled down while it was cooking(I had the heat on too high) and I had to add water. I remember my mom baking the dolma in the oven instead of putting it in a pot. Have you tried this?

    robin i put fresh parsley, cilantro, dill, basil chopped in the meat mixture and sometimes i may add fresh rosemary of course a little of all fresh herbs . . the aroma of cooking dolma is amazing. i have had neighbors who can smell the aroma come to my door. as for lori, if you go to any armenian grocery store in "little Armenia" (hollywood) or even Glendale and North Hollywood you will find what you are looking for whether it is the cake of mushroom dip/salad. You will find it in the refrigerator section the cake. .sandy

    worked with all armenians and never asked them name or receipes your loss armenians love to share food and teach non-armenians about the food and culture omg

    try Ara's Pastry corner of Hollywood blvd and Kenmore in Hollywood.

    Turks who have been shielded by their rewriting of their own history need to wake up and put on their big boy pants and learn history. Armenia was a country for 7 thousand years in what is now called 'turkey'. Look at all the old biblical maps and you won't see Turkey, you will see Armenia! Armenians are an ancient people with ancient cuisine, art, music etc. Armenia was the very first Christian nation. Mt. Ararat is our holy mountain. The so called Turks were mongol tribesman and barbarians that came down and murdered the Armenian people and then the Ottomans took over from there. They stole not only the land but the food the art the carpets the women who they kept as slaves and then when that was not enough they tried to force them to convert to islam and then murdered millions! History is history and you cannot rewrite it just because it is inconvenient. Find out who really owned your farms, copper mines and everything of wealth in Turkey today and you will find it was Armenian company's stolen by the Turks during the Genocide! This is historical. You cannot claim the cuisine and you cannot change history either. The whole world knows the truth, wake up!

    Hello , I'm arab and my favorite middle eastern dish is dolma. And i've tried both armenian and turkish Dolma , even the arabs have it and must say the turkish one tastes the most different and not in a good way it's too sweet ! I hate turkish cuisine , but love armenian dolma and manti , even the turkish manti is bad .. turkish food is so greasy i dont like it at all and ive been to all the best places in istambul ughh.. sorry turkey but dont compare your bad cuisine to armenia's flawless one .

    My Father used to make Buttermilk Soup ? does any one know the recipe ?
    it seems it was called "ABOO "

    Hello Anon, The Armenian word for soup is 'abour', so perhaps that's the term you're referring to. As for buttermilk soup, my guess is that your father may have substituted that for the more-traditional yogurt (madzoon). You can scroll through our first recipe section for Yogurt Soup (Tanabour).

    Robyn, can you explain, please – what the difference between such dolma and Echmiadzin dolma , and , may be you have an authentic recipe?

    Here's what I found in regard to Etchmiadzin dolma (and a few other varieties): Etchmiadzin Dolma (Tolma) An explanation by Gayane Mkrtchyan, ArmeniaNow.com reporter “Armenian cuisine’s ‘top five tolma chart’ includes grape-leaf tolma, Etchmiadzin tolma (with cabbage and vegetables), Lent tolma, Yerevan tolma (like Etchmiadzin tolma with the addition of quinces), and Mush tolma made of chopped meat and bulgur.” According to Wikipedia,” Etchmiadzin tolma utilizes eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, apples, and quinces.” As for an authentic recipe, I couldn't find anything specific, but I can post your request and see if anything develops.

    AnonymousJuly 11, 2013 at 6:38 AM
    My Father used to make Buttermilk Soup ? does any one know the recipe ?
    it seems it was called "ABOO
    Anonymous my family made a buttermilk soup, what ingredients were in the one your father made?

    Perhaps the soup you mean is Madzoon (or Tahn) Abour, meaning "Yogurt Soup"? I'm guessing your father used buttermilk instead of yogurt. Try this recipe:
    Madzoon Abour (Yogurt Soup)
    Ingredients:
    1 cup gorgod (shelled whole grain wheat – found in most Middle Eastern stores)
    3 cups chicken broth
    1 egg
    1 quart plain yogurt
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
    2 to 3 Tbsp. dried mint
    Directions:
    1. In a large saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil add gorgod, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
    2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg, then gently combine egg with the yogurt set aside.
    3. In a skillet, melt the stick of butter over medium-low heat. Saute the onion until softened, but not browned. Stir in the mint and cook 2 minutes.
    4. After the gorgod has sat for 30 minutes, check to see if the liquid has been absorbed. If so, then add 2 to 3 cups water and bring to a boil again. Remove gorgod from heat set aside.
    5. Take some of the hot liquid from the gorgod and slowly add it to the yogurt-egg mixture, making sure the yogurt does not curdle.
    6. Carefully add yogurt-egg mixture to gorgod. Stir in the onion-mint mixture to combine.
    7. Return the saucepan to the heat and bring to a simmer just long enough to heat everything through. Do NOT overcook.

    This dish is just incredibly tasty and every lover of unusual tastes will be just in awe of him and his smell.


    Ronnie's Stuffed Cabbage

    I never ate stuffed cabbage growing up. My grandmother, from Iasi, Romania, cooked Stuffed Grape Leaves. It is very similar to stuffed cabbage, though the leaves have a tart taste compared to cabbage and her sauce was more on the sour side, very lemony. But when I married my husband Ed, whose family heritage is Austrian and Russian, he wanted stuffed cabbage, so I set about trying to get the recipe right. It took years, but I finally created a recipe that appealed not only to Ed, but also my sons-in-law who kept wanting the sauce sweeter than I was used to. A few years ago I got it right, according to everyone in the family and that's saying a lot because we are an opinionated bunch. I make this every year. In fact I double the recipe and put some away in the freezer so we can have a bit at Hanukkah too.

    1 large head of cabbage
    2 pounds ground beef
    1 medium onion, grated
    1 large egg
    1/4 cup raw white rice
    2 tablespoons matzo meal or plain bread crumbs
    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    1 12-ounce bottle chili sauce
    1/2 cup raisins

    Bring a large pot half filled with water to a boil. Cut out the hard center cabbage core. Separate as many cabbage leaves as possible. Place the cabbage leaves plus the smaller remaining cabbage core in the boiling water. Cook the cabbage leaves for about 3 minutes, or until they wilt. Cook the remaining cabbage core for 3-5 more minutes, or until you can easily remove the leaves. Cut off the hard stem portions from the leaves so that they can be rolled easily. Set the leaves aside.

    Mix the ground beef, grated onion, egg, rice, matzo meal and some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place some of the filling (about 1 heaping tablespoon for the large leaves, less for the smaller ones) in the center of each cabbage leaf. Enclose the meat, folding the cabbage leaf and tucking in the ends. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down in a large, deep baking dish.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the brown sugar, lemon juice, chili sauce and raisins and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the stuffed cabbage rolls. Cover and bake for about 2 hours. (To make ahead: cook for one hour, freeze, thaw and cook for another hour.)


    Stuffed Cabbage With Lemony Rice and Sumac - Recipes

    • Home
    • Recipes
      • Hummus dip
      • Tabbouleh salad
      • Fattoush salad
      • Chicken, rice & cauliflower pot
      • Stuffed vine leaves
      • Stuffed cabbage rolls
      • Chicken with onions & sumac
      • Pasta with lentils & sumac
      • Okra & lamb stew
      • Vegeterian okra stew
      • Stuffed aubergines
      • Lentils and bulgur stew
      • Palestinian couscous
      • Stuffed pancakes
      • Partner organisation
      • Aknowledgements
      • Contact

      Musakhan is one of the most traditional Palestinian meals. While many dishes are shared across the Levant region, musakhan (sometimes written msakkhan), like maqluba, comes from Palestine. Some people call it the Palestinian pizza. It’s a fairly simple dish of bread, chicken and lots of onions, typically cooked in villages and eaten by hand. Although the onions play a big part in the dish, the secret ingredient is actually sumac. The sumac plant grows abundantly in Palestine and its red fruits are used in many middle eastern dishes. Once dried and crushed, it becomes a dark pinkish powder with a tangy lemony flavour. It looks beautiful and tastes amazing.

      I got a chance to cook and eat musakhan with Fayda, the mother of my friend Suha, in their hilltop village of Wad Rahhal near Bethlehem. And I was in for a treat with this musakhan while most people get their bread from the market, two women in Fayda’s village still have a running ‘tabun’, a traditional clay oven used in Palestine for hundreds and hundreds of years. Nowadays, tabuns are a rare thing as it takes a lot of work to keep them going so I was very lucky to see the bread being cooked in the tabun oven and then eat musakhan with this amazing bread. It was a true Palestinian experience.

      As Suha and I drove from Bethlehem to Wad Rahhal, it was hard not to miss the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat (all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law). Efrat is one of the biggest settlements in the West Bank and it borders a few villages, including Wad Rahhal. In fact, they are so near, not long ago some settlers complained that they could see Palestinians from their balconies and managed to get three houses in Wad Rahhal destroyed by the Israeli army. Just before entering her village, Suha pointed to the land where the houses once stood. There was nothing the people living there could do to stop it, Suha explained. Fayda and Mohammed, Suha’s parents, are both from Wad Rahhal. It’s where they grew up in, got married and then raised their four children in a small house surrounded by a few fruit trees and plants. For years, it took them less than 10 minutes to drive the short distance to Bethlehem but when Efrat was built, that journey tripled. Palestinians are not allowed inside or through Israeli settlements - unless they work there - so they have to drive around them, sometimes for kilometres. This impacts hugely on simple things like getting to the food market or taking your children to school. (if you want to learn more about settlements, watch this AJ video).

      Effrat illegal settlement. Photo: yrl

      Fayda loves her traditional Palestinian dishes and has been perfecting them over the years, passing on her recipes to her children. Her musakhan was delicious. The sumac gives the dish a taste which is quite unusual for European palates and definitely worth a try. My friends in Belgium loved it. The chicken was served on soft flat bread with the amazing tabun bread on the side. Sadly this recipe doesn't include how to make the traditional tabun bread. For that, you’ll have to visit Palestine yourself!

      THE RECIPE

      MUSAKHAN Chicken & sumac sauteed onions served on bread
      Difficulty Medium
      Cooking time 1 hour & 20 minutes
      Serves 4 people

      INGREDIENTS

      • 4 to 5 chicken legs and/or breasts (900gr to 1kg with bones)
      • Juice of 1 lemon
      • Vegetable oil
      • 4 cardamom pods
      • 3 dried bay leaves
      • Salt
      • 4.5 medium to large white onions
      • Olive oil
      • 30 gr of sumac
      • 2 teaspoons of (sweet or mild) paprika
      • 1 teaspoon of ground allspice
      • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
      • 1/2 teaspoon of ground blackpepper
      • 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
      • 100 gr of chopped blanched almonds (or whole if you cannot find chopped ones)
      • 3 or 4 flat Arabic bread of about 30cm in diameter * OPTIONAL: 1.5 cup of short or medium grain rice
      • The first step is to cook the chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium to large saucepan - the pan needs to be big enough to fit all the chicken pieces. Fry the chicken for a couple of minutes on each side to brown the pieces a little, then cover completely with water. Bring to boil. Once it starts boiling, add 1 teaspoon of salt, 4 cardamom pods, 3 bay leaves, half an onion roughly chopped and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Cover with a lid and keep cooking on medium to low heat for 35-40 minutes.
      • While the chicken boils, you can prepare the onion mixture. Peel 4 onions and cut them in half, thinly slice them sideways and put in a large frying pan. Pour about 10 tablespoons of olive oil and a few pinches of salt over the onions (you can use less oil if you don't like it so rich). Soften them on medium to low heat, stirring regularly for about 20 minutes or until they become translucent and soft. They should not burn or caramelise so keep an eye on it. Once the onions are cooked, pour 30 gr of sumac in the mixture (this is about 2 heaped tablespoons) and let is simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and put aside.
      • Pre-heat the oven at 200°C. Once the chicken has boiled for 35-40 minutes, take the pieces out and place on an oven tray. Mix the paprika, allspice, cumin, blackpepper & coriander in a bowl then sprinkle the mixture over the chicken adding some olive oil and salt. Use your hands to evenly spread the oil, spice and salt on the chicken. Bake the chicken in the oven for 10/15 minutes until golden and slightly crispy.
      • OPTIONAL STEP: if you want to serve the dish with rice, you can use the chicken stock to cook the rice so make sure to keep it. Strain the stock through a sieve. Thoroughly rinse 1.5 cups of rice under running tap water. Cook the rice using the chicken stock, following the instructions on the pack. Usually for short to medium grain rice, 1.5 cup of rice will need just under 3 cups of water to cook. Bring to boil, then cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to rest for another 5 to 10 minutes with the lid on.
      • While the chicken is grilling, in a pan fry two handfuls of almonds in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden.
      • You can now assemble the musakhan! With a spoon, spread some of the onion mixture over each bread. Leave about a third of it. Take the chicken out of the oven and place the pieces on top of the onions. Then pour the rest of the onion mix over the chicken and finish it off by sprinkling the almonds.
      • Put the assembled musakhan in the oven for 5 minutes.

      It’s ready! It goes well with some yogurt and cucumber & tomato salad on the side.

      *you can also just roast the chicken in the oven without boiling it or if you prefer boneless chicken breasts, you can also chop them into small pieces and cook them directly into the pan with the onions and sumac.

      Colourful sumac, a key ingredient in msakkhan


      Ronnie's Stuffed Cabbage

      I never ate stuffed cabbage growing up. My grandmother, from Iasi, Romania, cooked Stuffed Grape Leaves. It is very similar to stuffed cabbage, though the leaves have a tart taste compared to cabbage and her sauce was more on the sour side, very lemony. But when I married my husband Ed, whose family heritage is Austrian and Russian, he wanted stuffed cabbage, so I set about trying to get the recipe right. It took years, but I finally created a recipe that appealed not only to Ed, but also my sons-in-law who kept wanting the sauce sweeter than I was used to. A few years ago I got it right, according to everyone in the family and that's saying a lot because we are an opinionated bunch. I make this every year. In fact I double the recipe and put some away in the freezer so we can have a bit at Hanukkah too.

      1 large head of cabbage
      2 pounds ground beef
      1 medium onion, grated
      1 large egg
      1/4 cup raw white rice
      2 tablespoons matzo meal or plain bread crumbs
      Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
      2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      1 large onion, finely chopped
      1 cup brown sugar
      1/2 cup lemon juice
      1 12-ounce bottle chili sauce
      1/2 cup raisins

      Bring a large pot half filled with water to a boil. Cut out the hard center cabbage core. Separate as many cabbage leaves as possible. Place the cabbage leaves plus the smaller remaining cabbage core in the boiling water. Cook the cabbage leaves for about 3 minutes, or until they wilt. Cook the remaining cabbage core for 3-5 more minutes, or until you can easily remove the leaves. Cut off the hard stem portions from the leaves so that they can be rolled easily. Set the leaves aside.

      Mix the ground beef, grated onion, egg, rice, matzo meal and some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place some of the filling (about 1 heaping tablespoon for the large leaves, less for the smaller ones) in the center of each cabbage leaf. Enclose the meat, folding the cabbage leaf and tucking in the ends. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down in a large, deep baking dish.

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the brown sugar, lemon juice, chili sauce and raisins and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the stuffed cabbage rolls. Cover and bake for about 2 hours. (To make ahead: cook for one hour, freeze, thaw and cook for another hour.)


      Bint Rhoda's Kitchen

      For us, this is a dish of joy. Palestinians are known for their love of stuffing things with rice and meat, and if you are ever so fortunate to find yourself in a Palestinian's home, chances are good that you will be invited to share a meal like this. Garlicky and lemony, these tender rolls of cabbage filled with spiced meat and rice play a special role in the cast of dinner dishes that rotate through the Palestinian kitchen.

      Cross-Cultural Cabbage Rolls

      While most Palestinians live in a world of precise definitions (we roll cabbage leaves this way), my world has been one of collision, of integration, of explanation, of translation. My Palestinian mother pours lemon juice and garlicky broth over her cabbage rolls, my American father dips his rolls in ketchup. So I learned to do both, and I served it both ways to my children, one of whom liked the ketchup, and the other whom preferred the lemon and garlic broth.

      Perhaps my hardest years of cultural translation were the years that I spent in the hills of western Pennsylvania, in my husband family's world of Steeler football, pierogies, and Sheetz coffee. In some ways, this was another world of precise defnitions (this is how we make haloushki), and I had a hard time building bridges, or finding language to explain the world I had lived in. But one day, my mother-in-law told me that Aunt Carol had brought "pigs in a blanket" to a family function, and I assumed that she was talking about little hotdogs wrapped in some sort of dough. When it was time to eat, everyone clamoured in the kitchen - where are the piggies? - and I lifted the cover of a dish only to find what I had grown up eating: malfouf! Cabbage rolls, stuffed with meat and rice! The only difference was that these cabbage rolls were cooked in a tomato sauce, rather than the garlicky broth I had grown up with, and that the meat used was ground pork, instead of the lamb or beef I had grown up. Ah, I thought. Pigs in a blanket. I get it.

      So while it isn't traditionally Palestinian, my mother does like to add a little tomato sauce to the broth, to give it a little boost of flavor, and my father and son eat this with ketchup. My husband will eat any cabbage roll he can get his hands on. For me, these little cabbage rolls, whether you call them malfouf or piggies, will always have wrapped up in their layers a little piece of home, both old and new.

      A Few Words About the Recipe

      There are many different varieties of cabbages, and if you have a choice, choose a cabbage with leaves that are loosely furled, rather than tightly. You will notice that lighter heads of cabbage are more tender and cook more quickly, and darker heads of cabbage are tougher and take a little more work to soften. Both are delicious. The cabbages in Palestine are similar to the ones pictured above, light colored and easy to unfurl, whereas the ones that you will find in most grocery stores in America will be darker in color.

      Traditionally, the cooking liquid for this meal is water, but most cooks tuck in a few boney pieces of meat between the rolls of cabbage, to give extra flavor and nutrition. As a big believer in the benefits (and flavor) of broth, my mother always cooks her stuffed vegetables in homemade broth, and I do as well.

      If you have leftover filling, simply form little meatballs and place on top of your cabbage rolls, for some lovely little steamed rice meatballs. Alternatively, stuff anything else you have lingering in your vegetable drawer - a tomato, a sweet pepper . . . and pop that into the pot. It can be hard to judge exactly how much stuffing you need for the amount of vegetables that you have.

      Make sure that your broth is well seasoned, because that is what will give your cabbage flavor.

      Finally, serve your cabbage rolls with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, spoon the garlicky broth over the top. Palestinians also serve plain yogurt on the side, for dipping or eating alongside the cabbage rolls.


      

      My mother's cabbage rolls, from a teaching session this past summer.

      Malfouf, or Cabbage Rolls

      1 large cabbage or two small cabbages

      Filling
      1 cup rice, soaked overnight, rinsed, and drained
      1/2 lb ground meat, grassfed beef or lamb preferred
      2 tsp ground allspice
      11/2 tsp sea salt
      1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
      3 tbsp olive oil

      15 or so cloves of garlic, crushed
      Seasoned stock or water, enough to cover the cabbage
      1/2 cup tomato puree (optional)
      A couple of lemons

      The goal here is to remove all of your cabbage leaves, and to cook them until they are tender, flexible and become translucent. The outer leaves of cabbages are darker colored leaves, and they are tough and require longer cook times, while the inner cabbage leaves are paler and more tender.

      1. Remove outer leaves of your cabbage. Bring a very large pot of water up to a boil, and carefully submerge your cabbage. Once the outer leaves soften enough, remove them with a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Set aside. Return your cabbage to the boiling water, and repeat process until your cabbage leaves are all removed.

      2. Cut out the central rib out of each leaf. Then cut each cabbage leaf into sections. If the leaf is large, cut it into 3-4 sections. If the leaf is small, cut it in half. Save any cabbage remnants to sauté for a tasty side dish for another night of the week.

      NOTE: If your cabbage leaves are loosely furled and fairly tender (you will know this because your cabbage with be very pale in color, almost white), then you may be able to skip the next step. Your goal is for the leaves to be translucent and tender enough to roll, but not cooked so much that they fall apart.

      3. Sort your leaves by color - make a stack of dark, medium and pale leaves. Bring your water back to a boil and boil each stack until leaves are starting to turn translucent and are tender enough to roll. Dark leaves may take 10 minutes to boil, and the palest leaves may only take 1-2 minutes. Remove leaves with tongs.

      1. In a bowl, mix together the ingredients for you stuffing.

      2. At a table, set out a large cutting board or platter for rolling, your stack of cabbage leaves, your bowl of stuffing, and a large pot, greased with a little olive oil on the bottom. Start with your darkest leaves, as they will be on the bottom of your pot and will cook the most thoroughly. Place about one tablespoon (less for smaller rolls) of filling onto a cabbage leaf, and mold it into a long, cigarette shape. Roll your cabbage leaves tightly, and place onto the bottom of your pan. Continue rolling, packing in your cabbage rolls onto the bottom of your pot as tightly as possible. When you have completed one layer, scatter in cloves of garlic. Then continue to build layers of cabbage rolls, scattering in garlic as you go.

      3. Pour some well seasoned broth (lamb or beef would be delicious, but any broth will do, mixed with tomato puree, (if using) over the cabbage, filling just to the top layer of cabbage rolls. Place a plate on top of your cabbage rolls, then cover with a lid.

      4. Bring to a boil and then simmer on very low heat for about an hour, until cabbage leaves are tender and cooked. If the top layer of rolls isn't fully submerged, add a little water or consider flipping them one at a time so that they cook thoroughly.

      Serve with generous squeezes of lemon juice, spoon the garlicky broth over top, and serve with a bowl of plain, whole yogurt and a little Arabic bread.


      Recipe Round Up: Cabbage

      Theodora Teodosiadis is a photographer in Seattle, WA specializing in food and product photography. Educated in agriculture and the food system, Theodora uses her art to inspire a more beautiful, sustainable, and light-hearted world.

      In this local-produce-connoisseur’s opinion, cabbage is the most miraculous vegetable out there. When chopped, it’s compact size expands into enough food to feed a family. It is sweet and nutty, and also satisfyingly crunchy. I’m not the only person in love with cabbage cultures around the world have innovated delicious recipes featuring the magic veggie. This recipe round up is a world tour featuring recipes from the websites and blogs of Nisha Madhulika, Korean Bapsang, The Spruce Eats, Bon Appetit, Vahrevah, Delish, and Serious Eats.