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Cabbage Dolma in a blue plate
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5 from 8 votes

Dolma / Cabbage Rolls (Doma't Chalama)

Vegetarian Assyrian cabbage rolls (dolma) stuffed with rice and herbs.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Assyrian, Middle Eastern
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 412kcal


  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 3 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley (chopped)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon dill weed (or ⅓ cup fresh dill)


  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  • Carve the core out of the cabbage using a sharp knife, or a serrated grapefruit knife. Discard the core. Add the cabbage to a large stockpot, and cover it with water. Boil until the leaves begin to soften and start pulling away from the cabbage.
  • As the leaves change color and become soft and pliable, use tongs to carefully pull away the outer leaves, and place them 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.
  • Remove the thick veins from the center of the larger leaves. Use them to line the bottom of an 8-quart Dutch oven. This step is necessary so that the Dolma does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Cut the large cabbage leaves into two or three pieces each.

Prepare The Filling

  • Wash rice, then soak in water and set aside. Chop the parsley and cilantro; 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 it to the bowl. Finally, add the tomato paste and oil. Mix thoroughly until combined.

How To Roll Cabbage Dolma

  • Place approximately 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of each cabbage leaf and roll up to enclose the filling. There's no wrong or right way to roll the dolma, just avoid making them too big.
  • Place the dolma in the leaf-lined Dutch oven, seam-side down, in rows until the bottom is covered. After you are done with each layer or dolma, sprinkle with a teaspoon of dill. Continue until you have used up all the cabbage and the filling mixture.
  • Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes. The dolma will release some of its juices, and will partially steam cook. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce

  • Whisk tomato paste, water, sugar, citric acid, salt, cayenne pepper, and vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat.
  • Pour the sauce over the dolma. Turn heat to the lowest setting and simmer until the juices are absorbed and the rice is tender. This can take anywhere from 1 to 1½ hours.
  • Although you're going to want to dig in, have patience. You must allow the dolma to cool for a little bit, or it will fall apart when you're dishing it out.



  • If you run out of cabbage leaves and still have filling remaining, you can use onions. Just peel a medium-sized onion, cut the ends, and make a slit halfway through the onion. Boil for approximately 25 minutes. Strip the onion layers and stuff them with the remaining mixture.
  • Another option for lining the bottom of the pot is to use grape leaves instead of the cabbage leaf spines. Make sure you wash them before using them.
  • If you're like me and prefer dolma with meat, just replace one cup of rice with one pound of finely diced beef or lamb.
  • Some people line the bottom of the pot is lined with steak. The steak cooks in the dolma juices and ends up extremely tender and delicious.
  • Some recommend freezing the cabbage instead of boiling it before stuffing it. Although freezing the cabbage does soften it, the cabbage ends up being undercooked since it's not cooked prior to stuffing.


Serving: 1plate | Calories: 412kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 1678mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 17g