Stuffed onion skins (Salamouni mehshi)

February 4, 2012  •  Category:


There is a variety of onions called salamouni here, with an elongated graceful shape; they taste just like regular yellow onions but the neat thing about them is that once boiled, their skins stay curled up, making them perfect for stuffing. 

This recipe is shared by Asma, my wonderful Kurdish friend, who told me it was her father’s favorite dish. I will post a short video of Asma making this in the next 48 hours.

The stuffing here is the basic rice and ground meat one with a generous amount of sumac. Cabbage leaves are included in the pot as well. 


  • 1 pound of beef or lamb bones (preferably from the ribs)
  • 1/2 pound of ground beef or lamb
  • 2 cups of Italian or Egyptian or sushi rice
  • Spices: 1 tsp of salt (or more), 2 tsp of seven-spice (or half cinnamon, half allspice, a touch of nutmeg), 1/4 cup of sumac (or more, to taste).
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1 pound of onions
  • 1 pound of cabbage leaves
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1 large lemon juiced (or 1/2 cup of lemon juice)
  1. Blanch the onions and cabbage leaves in plenty of salted water till thoroughly wilted and soft. Drain and set aside while preparing the stuffing briefly. 
  2. In a bowl, mix the rice, meat and spices; add one or more tablespoons of oil to the mixture if it feels too dry. Heat  a large pot and brown the bones; set aside. 
  3. Stuff the onion leaves one by one, removing the translucent skin covering between each layer of skin. Stuff the cabbage leaves, removing the stalks and keeping them aside to line the pot. Place the cabbage and onion leaves side by side in the pot. Cover with a small plate to hold them in place (place a rock on top of the plate if necessary for extra protection). Sprinkle sumac over the leaves, add water to the top and bring to a simmer; add the lemon juice gradually as the pot simmers gently for one hour. 
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.



22 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Priyanka says:

    Great recipe….a new dish. Thanks for sharing

  2. Rosa says:

    That is a very original and interesting dish! The stuffing is wonderful.



  3. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Never seen these before – I can only imagine how tasty these must be!

  4. Peter says:

    Loved stuffed onions last year in Greece and these onions are ideal for stuffing.

  5. the indolent cook says:

    This looks like a great little dish. Again I learn something new from your blog. Thank you!

  6. LinsFood says:

    Hi Joumana, my first time here and I’m so glad I found you! I love Lebanese food and do try and make it from my cookbooks but a REAL person’s recipes are always best! I’ll be back! Lin xx

  7. Kristin says:

    Hi Joumana! This looks so good! Where can one find these onions? Also, a question came up at our family dinner table the other day and I was wondering if you might happen to know the answer. We ate a dish called bamia be khodar (Egyptian for okra with veggies). It is a dish that is essentially okra with a green soup or broth. No one jn my family was able to tell me what is in the soup. Apparently it is a delicacy in Egypt. Any insights?

    • Joumana says:

      @Kristin: I will ask; my dad was born and brought up in Egypt and he has many Egyptian connections; I have a close friend who is Egyptian; I know Egyptians love their bamiah! Could it be bamiah with molokhieh? Now I am intrigued! I have only seen bamiah in Egypt made with onions and tomatoes..

  8. Velva says:

    I saw this on your facebook…I am not sure people realize how sweet onions can become after cooking…Very nice. This is delicious.

  9. Leila says:

    Interesting. We have a similar dish here in Bosnia, it’s called sogan dolma. We boil regular yellow onions, but choose extra small ones, in water with a splash of vinegar and stuff with ground meat and rice. The stuffed onions are braised in meat broth, and served with creme freche

  10. Kathleen says:

    You always offer brand new ideas.

  11. Asmita says:

    What an unusual but interesting recipe! The stuffing must taste awesome!

  12. Tobias says:

    I always found it is a shame that onions seem to be treated like second class vegetables, being used more like a spice. Finally they get to be a bit more in the spotlight! I may not be able to get that kind but maybe I’ll try making them just by removing the centre of onion and stuffin them that way.


  13. Alaiyo Kiasi says:

    What a flavor bonanza! My favorite organic market gets a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than the typical store. I will be on the lookout for these onions. I can imagine them stuffed with curried tofu and green peas. I agree with Tobias that onions often get treated “like a second class vegetable.” Thanks for reminding us that it isn’t.

  14. Claudia says:

    Oh to find these onions. I love the stuffing and after you blanche the onions they must be so sweet and pliable. Look forward to the video.

  15. Mark Wisecarver says:

    Wow! Seeing these instantly reminded me of the taste, haven’t had any for more than 30 years but now it’s my turn to make some. I think Sito used to make these around Easter. early Spring each year. Awesome 🙂

  16. Kristin says:

    Hi Joumana, my family told me that it is made with something called “salk” in arabic, but no one has any idea what it is called in English. Its very tasty though!

  17. Susan says:

    Unusual and very tempting recipe! I will look forward to seeing the video to clarify one step for me.

  18. MyLittleExpatKitchen says:

    I LOVE stuffed onions, Joumana. I haven’t made this dish in such a long time. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.
    I’m bookmarking this!

  19. Nuts about food says:

    Wait, I think we have those here…they look like what they call banana shallots here…but the ones in your photo look larger. I love anything involving cooked onions so this is a must-try.

  20. domi says:

    Adorable farcis originaux et savoureux….

  21. Caffettiera says:

    I made stuffed onions the other day and they are so tasty, with these long shaped ones it would be even easier. I’ll add some sumac next time, it is one of my favourites.

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