Malfouf is a Lebanese / Middle Eastern Stuffed Cabbage Rolls that has fillings of rice, ground beef, herbs, and spices. It is one of the best cabbage recipes which you can eat it alone and feel satisfied.
While living in Kuwait and Jordan, I have tried and eaten many delicious Arabic foods. And I can assure you their foods are flavorful and nutritious.
I remember, back in old times in Kuwait, we have a weekly family gathering in my grandparent's house. My late Grandmother, God rest her soul, made this delicious cabbage dish called Malfouf, which melted my mouth since it is so tasty.
What is Malfouf?
Malfouf is an Arabic word meaning "stuffed Cabbage" in English. It is made from a cabbage roll, which I added rice, ground beef, coriander leaves, and other spices. This recipe is usually made during family gathering, Ramadan, or other important occasions.
There are 3 things you need to do when making this recipe. Firstly, the cabbage is simmer in a separate pot till it becomes soft enough.
Secondly, I sauté the uncooked rice, ground beef, and spices with oil in a pan. Once you combine them, that's when you can start preparing the cabbage roll.
And lastly, I am using tomato soup with spices when simmering the stuffed cabbage.
Cooking Malfouf is time-consuming but I promise you will love this recipe. My grandmother taught this recipe to my mother, and she relays this to me.
There are several ingredients to make a delicious Malfouf recipe:
RICE FILLINGS: For making the rice filling for the stuffed cabbage, here is what you need:
- Uncooked long grain rice
- Ground Beef
- Red Onion
- Coriander Leaves (You can switch with parsley or mint leaves if you like)
- Cumin Powder
WHOLE CABBAGE: I am using Cannonball Cabbage when simmering in the pot. You can use other types of green Cabbage if you like
BROTH FOR SIMMERING: When boiling or simmering the cabbage roll, I am mixing with water, tomato paste, chicken cube, and allspice. This will make the broth flavorful.
OTHER INGREDIENTS: So as not to make this dish boring, I like to add chicken and sliced potatoes & tomatoes in the pot when simmering the malfouf. Adding some protein and potatoes will make this meal complete. But this is just optional if you don't want to.
Kitchen Equipment You Need
Here are the kitchen equipment or tools you need for this recipe:
- Cooking Pan- the pan will be used to saute the uncooked rice, onion, ground beef, and the spices
- Large Cooking Pot- the pot will be used to simmer the cabbage till it becomes soft, and this is where you place the stuffed cabbage roll to cook it for hours. Furthermore,
- Small Cooking Pot- the small pot I am using is for making the broth which I mixed with tomato paste, chicken cube, and other ingredients needed.
- Kitchen Knife- You will need a big knife to cut out the core of the cabbage before boiling it.
- Colander- You will need this to drain the excess water after you are boiling the cabbage.
- Large Serving Plate- A plate will be used to place all your stuff cabbages including the potatoes and the chicken when serving.
Things to do first before cooking
Before you start cooking this recipe, I first remove the core or the root of the cabbage using the knife.
Once you cut it off, put it in the water in the pot and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes till it becomes soft (not too soft). I use the colander to drain the water and separate the cabbage.
And lastly, once it cools down, that is when I peeled the cabbage leaves. This will be good for 20 to 25 cabbage leaves.
That way it will be easier to make malfouf if you boiled the cabbage ahead.
Step by Step Instruction
After peeling all the cabbage leaves, there are 4 steps you need to do: Making the Rice Filling; Stuffing the Cabbage; Making the Broth, and Cooking the Cabbage Roll.
I. Making the Rice Filling
Firstly, I add olive oil to the pan in medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot, I added chopped red onion followed by ground beef, and then the uncooked rice. Stir for few minutes.
Once you saute them, add the cumin powder, chopped coriander leaves, salt, and black pepper. Stir again gently for several minutes before turning off the heat. And then I set aside.
II. Assembling a Cabbage Roll
To make a cabbage roll, you need a cabbage leaves that I prepared earlier.
Firstly, I added the rice filling to the center of the cabbage leaves. Fold on both sides before you roll into a cigar shape. Repeat the process and place it all on the plate.
When folding the rice filling, do not fully cover it like the picture shown above.
III. Making the Broth
To make a broth, I pour water into a cooking pot on medium heat.
Once it started to boil, that is when I added the chicken bouillon cube, allspice, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper. Lower the heat and stir it gently for few minutes before turning off the fire. Now you set aside.
IV. Cooking the Cabbage Roll
In a large cooking pot, I am making a layer here. First, I add the sliced tomatoes and leftover cabbages. And then followed by potatoes and chicken drumstick as a second layer.
After that, I put all the stuffed cabbage roll into the pot. One important thing to do is I use a heat-proof plate in the pot and pushed it down using your hand. This will help hold cabbage roll together and cook it faster.
And then I pour the tomato broth into the pot. Make sure the broth is slightly above the edge of the plate.
I let it simmer for 1 and ½ hours, or until it is soft and fully cooked. That is the time you can remove the plate inside the pot, and prepare to serve along with cooked chicken and potatoes.
Notes: While simmering, you can add more broth if you don't see water bubble above the plate.
Questions & Answers
Normally, we use Basmati rice. But, in this recipe, I am using long-grain rice. You can use any long or medium grain rice regardless of the brand.
You can put chicken, beef, or lamb as your protein. This will make your meal complete.
You can use an instant pot or pressure cooker. It will only take 20 minutes to cook this dish. And you don't even need to use a plate on the pot.
I reheat it using a microwave, which I set in medium-high intensity for 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
If in the fridge, transfer into the plate with covered oil or in a food container with a lid. But if in the freezer, you can't put it all together since will break apart. So it is best in every single layer you place a baking sheet on.
If in the fridge, it can last up to 7 days. But if in the freezer, it can last up to 1 month
Other Lebanese Food Recipes
Here are other delicious Lebanese Food recipes I highly recommend you to make:
Looking for fermented cabbage recipe? Check out this sauerkraut fermented pickled
- 1 Whole Cabbage
- 5 Pieces of Chicken Drumstick
- 2 Medium Sliced Potatoes
- 2 Whole Sliced Tomatoes
- 1.5 cup of long grain rice (Use any brand)
- ½ ground beef
- 1 small onion
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- ½ cup of coriander leaves
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 4 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of allspice
Boiling the Whole Cabbage
- Use the knife to remove the core or the root of the cabbage
- Pour water into a cooking pot. Transfer the whole cabbage there.
- Let it simmer for 10 minutes or till it becomes a bit soft.
- Drain the excess water using the colander. Let it cool down for few minutes
- Use your hand to peel the cabbage leaves. You should expect to have at least 20 pieces of leaves.
- The rest of the cabbage leaves that are broken, don't discard them and keep them aside.
Make the Rice Fillings
- Add olive oil to a cooking pan in medium-low heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add chopped red onion. Stir till it turns translucent
- Add ground beef and stir for several minutes till the juice is fully evaporated.
- Add the uncooked rice, cumin powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Once done, set aside.
Stuffing the Cabbage Roll
- In each cabbage leaves, add 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon into the center of the leaves.
- Fold on both sides and then roll into a cigar shape. Transfer into a big plate and repeat the rest
- (To see how it is fold, check the picture shown in the blog post)
Making the Broth
- Pour water in a cooking pot in medium heat.
- When it started to boil, adjust to low heat.
- Add chicken bouillon cube, allspice, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper. Stir gently before turning off the heat. Set aside
Cooking the Cabbage Roll
- Prepare a large cooking pot.
- To make a layer, add a sliced tomatoes and the broken cabbage leaves
- On a second layer, add sliced potatoes and chicken drumsticks
- On a third layer, add the stuffed cabbage roll.
- Add a heat-proof plate in the pot and pushed it down using your hand. This will help hold the malfouf together while cooking.
- Pour the Tomato Broth in the pot. Make sure the broth is above the edge of the plate.
- Let it simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the stuffed cabbage is soft and cooked. Add more broth if necessary
- Once done, remove the plate from the pot. And prepare to serve.
- If you don't see water bubble above the plate, add more broth.
Nutrition InformationYield 25 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 64Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 24mgSodium 42mgCarbohydrates 6gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 5g