Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Persian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

For many years, my elderly Irish co-worker was married to a Persian man. During this period of time, she learned to cook many of the "comfort food" dishes that her husband loved, and is very knowledgeable concerning the cuisine of this ancient country. Now known as Iran, Persia has a rich history of tradition and the food is a part of that.

This co-worker lent me an old, weathered cookbook called "In A Persian Kitchen" that was first published in 1960 by a woman who came from Persia and made America her home. The author shares many family recipes that her mother passed on to her, that she has successfully made for American friends who enthusiastically embraced the exotic, delicious fare.

I have long been wanting to try one of Ms. Mazdah's recipe, and since my husband and I have a tradition of eating cabbage on St. Patrick's Day, I decided to try the following recipe (which has been adapted slightly to our tastes and the modern kitchen). It's a fascinating dish - the sauce is just sugar and vinegar (at first I wondered, "Where's the tomato sauce?"), but it adds a delightful sweet and tangy touch to the cabbage. The meat inside stays moist and flavorful. If you have never tried cinnamon and meat (common in Middle Eastern cooking), it's a wonderful combination! If you want to try something a little exotic that doesn't require too much effort or any strange ingredients, here's your chance!

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

1 large head of cabbage
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. medium onion, finely shopped
1/4 c. Minute Brown rice
1/2 c. parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. water
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar

Core cabbage, set it in a pot of boiling salted water, cover, and cook until almost tender (be careful not to overcook it). Drain well and remove leaves, cut out midribs. Put ground beef in a bowl. Add onions through seasonings and mix well. Take each leaf in your hand and put a tablespoon of meat mixture on it. Shape into little packages. Line the bottom of a saucepan with cabbage leaves that couldn't be used. Pack in stuffed leaves, placing any remaining leaves between layers. Pour water on the cabbage, cover pan with lid and simmer on low heat for 35 minutes. Mix sugar and vinegar and pour over the cabbage and let cook for another 20 minutes. Makes 4-5 servings.


  1. Great post, but now I'm hungry...:)

  2. My friend from Morocco totally turned me on to stuffed cabbage. It might have been the best meal I ever had. I am so hungry now!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!