Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cabbage loafs- MALFOOF

Cabbage is my food companion since I can remember. However, I was first introduced to cabbage loafs after I got married.
In my home country, Slovenia, cabbage heads are pickled and then cooked in a similar way as cabbage loafs is cooked; the dish is called “sarma” and it has a sour note. Sarma is a dish of cabbage leaves rolled around a filling usually based on minced meat. Sarma means 'a wrapped thing' in Turkish, from the verb sarmak 'to wrap' or 'to roll'. The name sarma has been borrowed by many languages and probably also by the Slovenian language.
Immediately after my first bite into cabbage loaf- malfoof, I fell in love with this dish! It’s a hardy dish, yet it is also a healthy one.

Cabbage Loafs- MALFOOF (≈ 42 loafs)
1 4 pound cabbage head ≈ 21 loose leafs
1 tsp salt

In a big enough pot, bring water to boil. Add salt and stir to dissolve. Turn the heat down to low medium and put the cabbage into the pot. As the cabbage starts to cook, leafs will loosen and you will be able to cut them at stem and peel them off without damaging them. Let the loose leafs is a pot to cook for 3-4 more minutes, so they become soft and manageable.

Transfers the soft leafs into a bowl, cover the bowl, and continue working on your cabbage until you reach the heart of the cabbage.

1 cup rice
1 cup ground beef
5 large garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed in a mortal
½ tsp crushed chili peppers
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
¼ cup olive oil
3 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Wash rice and soak it in warm water for ½ an hour.

In a skillet heat the olive oil and brown ground beef with garlic, cumin, chili peppers, black pepper, and salt.
Maybe it will seem like a lot of olive oil, but when the rice joins the party, the oil will be absorbed.

Drain rice, add it to the meat, and stir over medium heat for about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add parsley, and stir to combine. Transfer the filling into a big enough bowl and let it cool down a bit.

Cut a cabbage leaf in half and remove the core.

Place approximately 1 tbsp of filling on the edge of the leaf.

Roll into a loaf and put it into a baking dish. Do not roll too tight, because the rice is still raw and it needs space to expand while cooking. Otherwise you will end up with crunchy rice inside a tasty cabbage loaf. Not appetizing at all! You will end up with 40 – 42 cabbage loafs.

Cover the cabbage loafs with the remaining small cabbage leafs. Pour a mixture of 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp Vegeta, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 2 cups of water, over the cabbage loafs, cover with aluminum foil, and put the baking dish into a 425*F preheated oven for 1 hour on the lower rack of the oven.

After one hour pull the dish out of oven and let in stand covered for at least 20 minutes on a counter top before serving.

TIP: Do not discard the cabbage cores; they can become a really tasty salad. Just chop the cabbage cores, add 1 big diced tomato, 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, 1 grated garlic clove, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp paprika, 1 tbsp olive oil, 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, and mix well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 1/2 an hour before serving. Simply refreshing and delicious!

I have some filling left, about 4 tbsp. The filling will go into the fridge until tomorrow, when it will find its place in a soup.


  1. fabulous job!! it looks so delicious!

  2. Thank you Dimah, for me there is no better cousine than Middle Eastern cousine: the best spices, recipes, clean tastes and food, .... and I could go on and on!

  3. Cabbage in the oven, sounds yummy thanks :)

  4. You should try it, they are really delicious!

  5. Hi Mateja! That's a yummy way of preparing this ancient recipe. Thanks for your step-by-step version. ☺

  6. So glad to have found your blog! I am of half-Slovenian descent and have just embarked on a "finding-my-roots-through cooking" project. Stuffed cabbage was my first dish, aside from the potica I make every year. This looks wonderful, right down to the core!