Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Mehche Malfoof)

December 11, 2008  •  Category: ,

An exquisite dish! the cabbage leaves meltingly tender and the meat and rice stuffing give a comforting feeling all permeated by the faint taste of lemon, garlic and mint. It can be partially cooked and frozen which makes it ideal for a party. This is Lebanese cuisine at its finest, humble yet refined…


  • 1 large cabbage (weight about 3 lbs. or 2 small ones
  • Several lamb bones (can use leftover bones from chops, for instance)
  • 15 garlic cloves, peeled  5 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed with a teaspoon of salt in a mortar (or with a knife)
  • 3 Tablespoons crushed dried mint
  • 4 oz. fresh lemon juice


For the stuffing:

  • 1 lb. ground lamb or beef chuck or ground round
  • 3/4 cup sushi rice or medium-grain rice or Egyptian rice
  • Spices consisting of salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, about 1 to 2 teaspoons each.


  1. Prepare the cabbage leaves by coring the cabbage then steaming it or boiling it until the leaves are tender. Place on a colander to drain and cool. Reserve the cabbage broth.
  2. Prepare the stuffing by mixing the ground meat with the rice and spices in a bowl.
  3. Prepare the dutch oven by sprinkling it with some olive oil, then spreading about 3 tablespoons of powdered dried mint on top. Add a sprinkle of garlic cloves (about 6).
  4. Cover the pan with all the lamb bones you have, leaving gaps to be filled up by the thick cabbage rib pieces. Separate the leaves, cutting them in half if necessary and taking the rib out (to be used to line the pan) Stuff the leaves one at a time by placing a generous tablespoon of meat mixture in the middle and rolling it like a cigar. Place each stuffed leaf in the pot, one layer at a time, taking care to insert garlic cloves here and there.
  5. Now place a small plate on the cabbage rolls to maintain them in place; gently pour  the cabbage water (or plain water or light chicken bouillon) to which you would have added the lemon juice and crushed garlic cloves on top of the rolls. You should have about 2 cups of liquid.  Cover the pan and bring to a slow boil. Uncover pan and simmer until the water has evaporated. Usually the cooking time is about one hour from start to finish, unless you plan to freeze the dish, in which case you will cook it halfway.
  6. Serve by carefully flipping the cabbage rolls onto a pretty platter, to show off your beautiful work. Remove any ribs or bones however, unless you have splurged and used whole lamb chops, then you can serve them alongside the rolls! The dish will serve 6 people.  Mehche Malfoof can be accompanied with a bowl of cold plain yogurt and some pita bread.
Meat stuffing for malfoof
Meat stuffing for malfoof


4 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Paulo Reis says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I love cooking and this is my favorite comfort food. I grew up in Brazil, amazon region and we have a restaurant called Almanara which is owned by a lebanese family – at the restaurant only the men cooked.

    I grew up eating kibbeh and raw kibbeh, rice and lentils, stuffed eggplant and of course the stuffed cabbage leaves which we call “charutos”(cigars).

    I live in America now and I’m delighted to try this recipe that brings me back great childhood memories. Absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. domi says:

    Excellentes ces ” cigarettes ” de choux qui seraient super chic sur une table apéritive et très saines en plus, à ” fumer sans modération

  3. Weavethousandflavors says:

    You are absolutely right! This represents the finest in Lebanese cuisine – humble, honest full of amazing flavor and I can absolutely see making these for a party. So lovely!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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