My friend Danyal showed me how to make these–they are so delicious! And guess what? You don’t need to mess with boiling the cabbage to loosen its leaves. There’s a much easier way. When you buy the cabbage, wash it from the outside and place in a plastic bag and freeze. 3-4 hours before you are ready to make this dish, thaw it, cut out the stem and voila the leaves will practically fall off as you pull them. Thanks to Danyal’s mum–whose original idea this was–now I don’t have to ever fret over making this.
You will need:
1) 1 whole [frozen] cabbage–thawed.
2) 1 cup of Egyptian rice (its good for anything stuffed :))
3) 3/4 of a cup of ground beef or lamb
4) 4 tblsp of mint
5) 2 tblsp of parsley
6) 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
7) 1 tsp of all spice
8) salt to taste
9) 3/4 of a cup of olive oil
10) 1 cup of lemon juice
11) 1 tsp of ground cumin
First of all, thaw the cabbage, cut out the stem and peel the leaves off. You want them intact–so be gentle. If the leaves are big, remove the vein and cut into half (keep the veins you remove aside). If small, then with a paring knife make the vein level with the cabbage leaf. Keep these aside.
Now for the stuffing mix the rice, ground beef, salt, allspice, cinnamon, 1/4 of of the lemon juice, 1/4 of the olive oil, 2 tblsp of mint, parsley. Mix well with your fingers.
Stuff the leaves with the mixture by taking a leaf, placing about a 1/4 of a tsp or a little more and then rolling it up. It’s no sweat, unless you make it so. You just need to roll them–and don’t worry about the sides being open the stuffing won’t come out. Just make sure you squeeze each stuffed and rolled up leaf to remove excess moisture, and to help the ends stick together.
In a pressure cooker–if you do not have one you can use a regular pot with a secure lid–take the veins and layer the bottom of the pot with them. Then make a layer of the stuffed cabbages, sprinkle 1/4 tsp of cumin, a drizzle of olive oil and lemon. Then start another layer and repeat until you are done. Place a plate on top to keep the stuffed cabbages from moving during the cooking process–make sure the plate is heat resistant.
Then pour boiling water (I taste the water and make sure it is a little salty) to cover the stuffed cabbages completely, close the lid and place on high heat. When it starts boiling, lower to medium and let cook. If you are using a pressure cooker, then it should take about an hour. If you are using a regular pot, give it an hour and a half to two hours. You are not waiting for the liquid to dry, but for the stuffed cabbage to cook. The softer it is the better. If there is excess water (as there should be) you can drain it, but if there isn’t much then leave it.
With a plate at the mouth of the pot, slowly flip the pot. They will come out beautiful. Serve with yoghurt and my personal favorite Tobasco green sauce. Mmmmmmmm!
*tip: usually adding the lemon early deprives the cabbage of their green color, so my friend Sr. Hana advised that i put the lemon in, close to the time when it is cooked through to preserve the color. So, try it either way, it is delicious!