Cabbage Dolma is one of those Assyrian dishes that everyone loves. It also happens to be my daughter’s favorite. There is a problem, however, she likes hers without meat, and I like mine with. Being the nice mom that I am, I usually sacrifice my preference, and make it the way she likes it. If you’re like me, and love your protein, simply replace one cup of rice with 1 pound of finely diced beef or lamb.

This year, I am continuing a tradition that I started five years ago. What tradition you ask? Well, five years ago I came up with the idea of cooking cabbage dolma along with the usual corned beef I prepare on St.Patricks’s Day. Isn’t that clever? As a result, Nena gets her vegetarian dolma, and I get my meat, but on the side. Win-win!

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Cabbage Dolma
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Cabbage Dolma
  1. Carve the core out of the cabbage using a sharp knife, or a serrated grapefruit knife. Discard the core.
    cored cabbage
  2. Add cabbage to a large stock pot, and cover with water. Boil until the leaves begin to soften and start pulling away from the cabbage.
    cabbage cooked
  3. As the leaves change color and become soft and pliable, use tongs to carefully pull away the outer leaves, and place on a platter. Avoid overcooking the leaves which will cause them to fall apart. Continue to strip the leaves away until you’re left with the smaller leaves in the center.
    cabbage leaves
  4. Remove the thick veins from the center of the larger leaves.
    cabbage leaves
  5. Use the thick sections of the leaves to line the bottom of an 8 qt. Dutch oven. This step is necessary so that the dolma does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
    leaf-lined pot
  6. Cut the rest of the cabbage leaf into smaller portions, which will be used to roll the mix in.
  1. Wash rice, then soak in water and set aside. Chop the parsley and cilantro, and add to a large bowl. Mince onion and garlic, and add to the same bowl. Mix in all the filling spices. Strain the rice and add to the bowl, along with the tomato paste and oil. Mix thoroughly until combined.
    rice filling
  1. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each cabbage leaf and roll up to cover the filling.
    cabbage dolma
  2. There's no wrong or right way to do this, it just takes practice. Just don't make them too big.
    cabbage roll
  3. Place the dolma in the leaf-lined Dutch oven, in straight row until the bottom is covered.
    cabbage rolls
  4. When you are done with the first layer, sprinkle with a teaspoon of dill.
    dolma with dill
  5. If you run out of cabbage leaves, you can use onions to use up the remaining filling.
    stuffed onions
  6. If this happens, just peel a medium sized onion, cut the ends and make a slit half way through the onion. Boil for approximately 25 minutes, then strip the onion layers, and stuff them with the remaining mixture.
    stuffed onion dolma
  7. I even used some grape leaves!
    grape leaf dolma
  8. Cover the pot, and cook over medium heat for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The dolma will release some of it's juices, and will partially steam cook. During this time, you can move on to making the sauce.
    cabbage dolma
  1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, until well blended. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside until needed.
    sauce for dolma
  2. Pour the sauce over the dolma, and once the mixture is boiling, turn heat to the lowest setting, and simmer until the juices are absorbed, and the rice is tender. This can take anywhere from one to one and a half hours.
  3. Although you're going to want to dig in, have patience little grasshopper! You must allow the dolma to cool for a little bit, or it will fall apart when you're dishing it out.
    yummy dolma
Recipe Notes

To check out my mom and I making cabbage dolma, follow this link!

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