Malfouf - a savory Middle Eastern dish of spiced rice and minced meat rolled in cabbage leaves. Please note, this is a vegetarian version.
Soak 1.5 cups of rice in room temp water for 2-3 hours. This step is crucial to ensure proper texture of rice is achieved. (To speed up the process, cover rice with boiling temp water for an hour.)
With a strong knife, cut out the core of the cabbage. Be very careful not to cut yourself or break the blade.
Place cabbage in a large pot of boiling water until wilted, this should take a few minutes. Do NOT overcook cabbage!
With a carving fork or similar utensil, remove wilted cabbage from pot of water and place on a large plate/tray until cool enough to handle.
Once cabbage cools down, remove each leaf and prepare one at a time.
Remove the thickest part of the stem from the leaf.
Chop removed stems into bite-sized pieces and place to the side for now.
If cabbage leaf is very large, cut it in half.
Stack prepared cabbage leaves on top of each other and place to the side for now.
Finely dice one medium onion and place in a large mixing bowl.
Finely dice one large ripe tomato and add to bowl.
Get one small handful of parsley.
Finely chop it and add to the bowl.
Slice the green onions from top to bottom and add to the bowl.
Cover 1 cup of TVP in hot water and allow to sit until hydrated (approximately 10 min). You can either skip this step, or replace it with any crumble-like veggie meat. Just please, no tofu!
Add one handful of dried mint to the bowl. (You can replace with fresh mint.)
Add one tsp of ground all-spice.
Add one-third cup of extra virgin olive oil.
With all of the filling ingredients in the bowl, season with salt (approximately 1 tbsp) and a dash of freshly cracked black pepper. It will look something like this before it is all mixed.
Thoroughly mix everything together, tasting it and adding more seasoning to your preference. If it tastes overly seasoned, that is good since it will lose some flavor once cooked.
Peel 1 head of garlic (yes, 1 head!), and pound it in a pestle and mortar.
Crush 2 tbsp of coriander seeds.
Now, heat the large pot you intend to cook the cabbage in with 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Add pounded garlic and crushed coriander to the pot and sautée for a minute then remove from heat.
Thickly slice the remaining tomatoes and place over the sautéed garlic and coriander.
Add the remaining handful of dried mint over the sliced tomatoes. Then, add some of the chopped cabbage stems you put to the side, spreading them evenly over the tomatoes.
Time to fill the leaves. Make sure the section of the leaf that had the stem is facing out towards your right. This is important for the rolling process.
Place a heaping tbsp of the rice filling on the bottom of the cabbage leaf. (Adjust filling amount depending on size of leaf.)
Take the bottom of the cabbage leaf and roll up until filling is entirely covered by leaf.
Take the left side of the cabbage leaf and flip it over to ensure the left side of the cabbage roll is "closed." Roll the rest of the cabbage from bottom to top and place in pot.
After each leaf is rolled, place neatly side-by-side in pot. For extra flavor, put pieces of the remaining half-a-head of garlic between rolls. You will most likely have 2-3 layers of cabbage rolls.
Drizzle a quarter cup of olive oil over the rolled cabbage.
Sprinkle 1 tbsp salt over the cabbage.
Add water to barely cover top layer of cabbage and bring to a boil. Once you reach a boil, add juice of 1 lemon to pot and lower heat to maintain a gentle boil for 1 - 1.5 hours. Keep pot covered.
While cabbage is cooking, taste the liquid in the pot to check on the level of seasoning. If bland, add more salt.
Once cooking time is over, your leaves should look like this. Test one roll to make sure cabbage leaf is cooked through, and rice is nice and soft.
Place a large serving plate over the pot and flip pot upside-sown.
Once pot is upside-down, let sit for a minute or two before removing.
Lift pot up to reveal a hopefully intact "tower" of rolled cabbage leaves with the sliced tomatoes now on top! Eat next to a tangy salad and some yogurt. Sahtein! (Eat with good health!)
- 1.0 Large cabbage (ideally more flat than round)
- 1.0c Short grain rice
- 1.0 Head of garlic peeled
- 1.0 Medium diced onion
- 3.0 Ripe tomatoes
- 1.0bnch Finely chopped parsley
- 3.0 Stalks diced green onions
- 2.0 Handfuls of dried mint
- 1.0c Dried minced soy protein (TVP)
- 0.0c Extra virgin olive oil
- 2.0Tbsp Crushed coriander seeds
- 1.0tsp All-spice
- 1.0 Lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pestle and mortar
- Large cooking pot