Mehshe malfouf (Cabbage rolls)
Cabbage rolls is a dish consisting of cabbage leaves stuffed of a variety of filling and the sauce varies widely between different cuisines. In Sweden stuffed cabbage is served with lingonberry jam which is known a lot there and in Norway too, I guess to give it a sweet distinguished taste. In eastern Europe it is cooked in tomato based sauce. In Lebanon, this dish also known as Mehshe Malfouf, it is a popular plate which means stuffed cabbage or stuffed roll, where the cabbage leaves are filled with rice and meat then rolled without closing the edges, cooked in minted garlic lemony taste. When I was young, I used to recognize this special and delicious dish from its amazing aroma and smell, as soon as I entered the house from school.
Cabbage rolls can also be done without meat for vegetarian food lovers by using the same stuffing as swiss chard with the same method of preparing except it might take an additional cooking time and it is as delicious. You can look up the swiss chard recipe on my website.
Prep. time: one hour
Cooking time: 45 mins
1 medium cabbage
400 grams ground beef
1 and a half cup rice
9 medium garlic gloves, 1 clove chopped for the stuffing, 4 crushed and 4 of them separate the cloves and wash unpeeled
3 large lemons
1 tsp dried mint
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
a pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium tomato
How to prepare the cabbage leaves ready to stuff:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, remove the outside leaves, around 2 of them then wash the whole cabbage. Cut around the core with a knife, this helps the leaves to loosen, put the cabbage in the boiling water with the core facing up. You need to cut sometimes the inner leaves until they fall off, let them cook for 1 minute until they soften then put the leaves aside in a strainer, cut them in 10 cm squares or rectangles 10 cm long. The procedure of preparing the leaves can be done a day a head if you wish then preserved in the fridge.
DIRECTIONS: Pound 4 cloves of garlic with salt and the mint then fry them with the oil in a cooking pot over low heat for 2 minutes, cover the bottom of the pot with the round sliced tomato then turn off the heat. Now wash the rice and mix it wit the meat, 1 tsp of salt, the spices, the cinnamon and 1 finely chopped garlic glove.
How to prepare the rolls: Put the leaf on a chopping board, add a bit of the stuffing near the edge along the leaf and start rolling one after another without closing the edges, arranging them in the same cooking pot, spreading between the layers of rolls the washed unpeeled garlic gloves until you finish. Put the butter on top, add 1 tsp salt and a bit of water then cover with a glass plate upside down which holds the rolls to stay in place, finally pour water until it covers the plate. Cover the pot and put over high to medium heat until it starts boiling, let it simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, add the lemon juice and cook for another few minutes.
You can serve it after 10 minutes from finishing if you wish by flipping it in a bigger serving plate. Mehshe Malfoof is served warm with yogurt aside and I think it is worth trying this amazing dish.
BON APETIT !!!