Stuffed Cabbage, known as Malfoof in Arabic, is part of a larger family of what is called Mahashi or stuffed vegetables. It’s one of the yummiest of the pack because of its flavorful ingredients.
Stuffed cabbage (Malfoof) is very popular with moms since it’s a little easier to prepare than others in its stuffed vegetables! It’s a savory dish of well-seasoned rice and ground beef rolled in a cabbage leaf and cooked to perfection!
Wonderful Flavors in One Roll
Cabbage means Mafloof in Arabic and can be written as malfuf or malfouf. In my household, this is also a popular dish. Our entire family enjoys a good Malfoof stew because it’s hearty, satisfying, and packed with great flavor.
I love it because it can be prepped in advance and easily made to be eaten over a few days. We love eating it drowned in its stew juices or as finger food! Tastes amazing either way!
Do you want low-carb stuffed cabbage (Maloof)? Try my Quinoa Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. You will get the same zesty, savory flavors with some additional health benefits. For vegan Maloof, use the quinoa stuffing but leave out the meat.
Preparing the Cabbage
There are a few ways to prepare your cabbage before stuffing it. The main thing to be done is to get tender cabbage leaves that are easy to fold and roll after stuffing. So, how do we get them that way?
How to Prepare The Cabbage for Boiling
Well, first of all, it’s important to wash your cabbage head. Next, you want to decide how you want to tenderize the leaves. There are different ways to do it. The most common technique is to boil the cabbage.
Oftentimes, you do this by boiling the whole head of cabbage. You don’t have to slice out the core and pull it out.
Place the whole cabbage in boiling water. Once leaves are tender, now you can easily slice around the core and take it out. The leaves will come apart much more easily after boiling.
Another way is to core it and pull apart the leaves and boil the leaves already separated. It’s up to you which process makes you more comfortable.
Some people boil the whole cabbage head after removing the core, so that’s also optional.
It’s the Best Way to Enjoy Stuffed Malfoof!
How to Boil Cabbage
Whether you’re removing the core or not, prepare a large pot of water, and it’s best to get the water to a boil first. Then, add some salt and drop your cabbage head or leaves into the boiling water.
Keep an eye on your cabbage as it boils. It needs about 20 minutes or just until tender. Overcooking it at this stage is bad because the leaves will tear as you pull them apart or roll them.
If you already separated the leaves, you’ll have nearly half the boiling time. The leaves should be a little translucent and tender to the touch with some rigidity.
A Cabbage Prep Hack
Don’t want to boil your cabbage head? There’s a hack that many people use. They freeze the cabbage head a full day ahead and remove it from the freezer a couple of hours ahead of time. As it thaws, the leaves become translucent and tender!
Enjoy Some Tasty Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Cook Stuffed Cabbage in Instant Pot
If you think that cooking stuffed cabbage takes so long, you can use this excuse no longer. Cooking cabbage rolls in the instant pot saves you much time; your Maloof will be cooked in 18 minutes only!
What an innovative way! Place cabbage rolls in the instant pot, then you can cook them in the morning before going to work or shopping for groceries. You can keep the rolls in the instant pot until dinner time.
Take my word for it, this will enhance the flavors by far. While in the instant pot, it stays warm and the flavors in the sauce will infuse into the rice to give you the yummiest taste.
Check Out these Steps!
The Stuffing for Stuffed Cabbage (Malfoof)
The stuffing for the Stuffed Cabbage (Malfoof) is none other than the famous dolma stuffing. Yes, it’s the same stuffing used in stuffed zucchini grape leaves (also part of the mahashi family.
You can use my meat and rice- hashweh recipe which is easy to follow and recreate. In a large bowl, mix ground beef and white rice of your choice (best with short-grain rice) and a mix of spices.
You use the stuffing raw and place it in the center of each cabbage leaf and fold and roll it. It is up to you to decide how to roll the Maloof leaf. You can place the leave on a plate, a tray, or a cutting board to roll them.
You can make it thin, thick, or similar to patties. However, you decide to do it, use a pairing knife, remove the stem from the bottom of each leaf, or shave it down to make it easier to fold like you do to grape leaves.
The stuffing will cook thoroughly and evenly in the tangy sauce. You do have the option of precooking the meat if you’re more comfortable with that.
Furthermore, a great thing about cabbage is that it doesn’t require as much skill and effort in stuffing and rolling as other mahashi veggies do.
It can be done quicker and much more easily than grape leaves or having to core other veggies like zucchini before stuffing. They are also easier to cook because cabbage leaves are hard to overcook or undercook, unlike other green leaves.
A 5-Star Meal
Other types of Mahashi (Stuffed Vegetables)
The mahashi family is a large one. Any vegetable you can core or fold can be stuffed with the hashweh or rice and meat mixture. The star of the mahashi family is Stuffed Grape Leaves or dolma.
Stuffed zucchini and eggplant come in a close second. Many people also stuff bell peppers, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and artichokes.
If you like tomato-based sauce, you can cook mahashi with tangy tomato sauce made with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce.
Another green that can be stuffed and rolled is swiss chard but it’s definitely a lot more sensitive than grape leaves and should be treated delicately.
Tips – How To Make Malfoof
While boiling the cabbage head for Stuffed Cabbage (Malfoof), you will notice it floats so you may want to flip it over halfway through boiling to get it cooked on all sides. Drain the cabbage head or leaves after boiling to remove excess water.
After rolling the cabbage leaf, it’s a great idea to squeeze it. This removes excess water and helps the rolled cabbage keep its form while cooking.
Don’t overdo the stuffing inside because the rice will fluff as it cooks in the sauce causing it to double in size. If there’s too much stuffing, it will come out of the leaf.
To keep the rolled cabbage from coming apart, you can put a glass dish face down on top of the rolled cabbage in the pot to keep them in place and help them cook evenly.
For added flavor and juices, you can stack tomatoes between layers.
You can layer Maloof in a regular pot and cook it on the stovetop. After you bring it to a boil, keep it on high heat for around 10 minutes, then on medium heat for up to 1 hour or till the leaves are tender and the rice is fully cooked.
A Pro Tip: For the ultimate taste, make sure you add some crushed garlic while layering the Maloof.
You can also get some extra crushed garlic, add it to the sauce, and then drizzle it on top of the stacked Maloof in the pot. While cooking, the crushed garlic will pass through to the bottom layer.
For an enhanced flavor, you can add some extra lemon, salt, and black pepper to your plate. You will enjoy the best malfoof dish ever!
Ultimate Stuffed Cabbage Recipe!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, of course. Simply omit the ground beef from the stuffing recipe. You can even opt to create a veggie-based rice filling by adding parsley, tomatoes, mint, and shallots to the rice mixture.
You can store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days.
Yes! You can freeze cooked stuffed cabbage without the sauce in an airtight container or pack them in a freezer bag for up to three months. Remove the night before and put it in the fridge to thaw.
Cut the stem out of the whole cabbage, cutting around and pulling out with a fork. Then, you boil the whole cabbage head for about 30-40 minutes until the leaves have softened, making sure you spin the cabbage head around often. Strain, allow to cool and gently peel one leaf at a time.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe
Even if it is your first time cooking Maloof, you can never go wrong with it. Check the recipe card and you will surprise your family with the best-stuffed cabbage meal ever with no extra effort.
- Cabbage heads
- Ground meat
- Short-grain rice
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Seven spices
- Citric acid
- Black pepper
- Warm water
- Garlic cloves
- Bouillon cubes
- Lemon juice
- Black pepper
- Seven spices
Other Enjoyable Recipes
- Mexican Chicken Zucchini Skillet
- Quick Spicy Beef (Sujuk) Pizza
- Grilled Lime and Cilantro Shrimp
- Lemon Mint Garlic Chicken Stew
- Healthy Pasta Salad and Dressin
- Sujuk Fatteh and Fattet Sujuk
- Pasta and Beef in Yogurt Sauce
- The Best Chicken Healing Soup
- Stacked Beef Shawarma Salad
- Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole -Malfoof
Stuffed Cabbage (Malfoof)
- 2 cabbage heads
- 1½ lbs ground meat
- 2 cups short-grain rice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 2 onions minced
- 10-15 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoons seven spices
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon citric acid
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- ¼ cup oil extra virgin
- 2 cups warm water
- 6 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 bouillon cubes
- 2 large lemons juiced (or 4 small lemons)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon seven spices
- Place the cabbage head in boiling water for 25 minutes, until it becomes tender and leaves start to slightly fall off. Don’t over boil since leaves will become too soft to roll.
- At the root of the cabbage cut deep with a knife around in square form. After cutting well, pull the root out with a fork or with your hand. It is easily done after it has boiled.
- Drain cabbage and begin to gently separate leaf by leaf. With a knife cut horizontally the tip of each leaf that is hard to smooth out surface and leaf becomes foldable.
- Mix all ingredients under “cabbage stuffing”. You can add more salt to taste. I usually taste the mix (I don’t swallow it) then fix salt to your liking.
- Put about 2 tablespoons of the rice mix in one whole leaf or half the leaf. There are no rules, you make small rolls or larger cabbage rolls.
- Fold in from the right then the left of leaf and begin to roll. Line up the rolled cabbage in pressure cooker or a large pot.
- Mix all ingredients under “sauce”, then pour over rolled cabbage in pressure cooker pot. Set pressure cooker to 16 minutes.
- Once done, you can taste it, and adjust any taste in the sauce if needed.
- Drain most of the water out by placing a plate over the cabbage inside the pot.
- Enjoy with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Absolutely delicious. It’s the first time I make Stuffed Cabbage (Malfoof) and it came out just like my mom’s! Thanks a bunch!
This makes me happy to hear! 🙂
Elizabeth H O Dudley says
looks delicious and you explain the recipe steps and reasons well – look forward to making this, thank you for the recipe and tips
Hi Heather! Happy to came across this recipe 🙂 I guarantee you will like it! Thanks for stopping by – Lama
I finally made these cabbage rolls today and they came out perfect. Myb kids enjoyed every bite! Thank you
Hey Elaine! Glad to hear and I hope you found them to be quicker in the pressure cooker! 🙂