Dolmeh Kalam • دلمه کلم • Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage • Dolmeh kalam • دلمه کلم Fae's Twist & Tango

Cabbage Fae's Twist & Tango
I have seen stuffed cabbage recipes in almost every cuisine of the world. This is the basic Persian version. Every household has its favorite ingredients or ratio of. This dish is also somewhat time-consuming, but one loved by many.

Stuffed Cabbage • Dolmeh Kalam • دلمه کلم

  • Servings: 14 ~ 16 pcs • 3~4 pcs/person
  • Time: ~ 3 Hrs
  • Difficulty: Difficult
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Recipe by:    Fae’s Twist & Tango    (

Stuffed Cabbage • Dolmeh kalam • دلمه کلم Fae's Twist & Tango


•   1  large head green cabbage

Instead of blanching the cabbage:

◊    A day before preparing the dolmeh, rinse, dry and core the cabbage. Place cabbage head in a plastic bag, tightly sealed, put in freezer and freeze overnight. Remove from freezer, thaw for few hours before use. Carefully peel away leaves and stack.

◊  Other option is, once the cabbage is cored, it does peel off easily. If this is the case, before freezing, core, peel as many leaves as you can/need, stack the leaves, put the rest of the cabbage (if using) in the center and then freeze in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Let it thaw before use.


•   1  cup  parsley, chopped finely
•   2  Tbsp  mint, chopped finely -or- 1 tsp dried
•   2  Tbsp  dill, chopped -or- 1 tsp dried
•   1  Tbsp  tarragon, chopped -or- 1 tsp dried
•   1  tsp  ground cumin
•   ½  tsp  ground cinnamon
•   1  Tbsp  sugar
•   2  Tbsp  apple-cider/red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice

◊    Prepare herbs, place in a big bowl and add spices and seasonings.


•   ¾ cup rice (preferably basmati rice)
•   1 tsp salt
•   1½ cup water

◊  Combine ingredients and bring to a boil on high. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Test if cooked. Drain if needed and set aside to cool.


•   1/3 cup slow-cooking yellow-split-peas (regular yellow-split-peas would fall apart)
•   1 tsp salt
•   2 cups water

◊  Combine ingredients and bring to a boil on high (scoop out the foam). Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes, or until cooked. Drain and set aside to cool.


•   1½  Tbsp vegetable oil
•   1  large onion = 240 gr / 8.5 oz diced small
•   2/3  lb  ground beef, lamb or turkey
•   1  clove garlic minced
•   ¼  tsp turmeric
•   2  Tbsp tomato paste
•   ¼  tsp salt
•   ¼  tsp ground black pepper
•   1  cup hot water

◊   In a medium-size frying-pan or sauce-pan with lid, heat oil on medium-heat and add chopped onion. Sauté until edges begin to brown. Add meat, garlic and sauté thoroughly. Add turmeric, tomato paste, salt, pepper and hot water. Stir, cover and simmer until all water is evaporated (about 30 minutes). Set aside to cool.


◊   Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F

◊   Preparing the stuffing: Add cooked rice, cooked yellow split peas and cooked meat to the bowl with the herbs, and mix well.


•   2  Tbsp  vegetable oil
•   6  Tbsp  sugar
•   ½  cup  apple-cider, red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice
•   smidgen  ground saffron
•   1~2 cups  hot water

◊   Mix sugar, vinegar and saffron well.

◊   In an oven-safe  33 cm x 23 cm x 5 cm deep   (13” x 9” x 2” deep)   Pyrex  or  serving dish, add oil and line the bottom of the dish with odd-sized or torn cabbage leaves.

◊   Starting with the larger leaves, using a dinner plate, place the cabbage leaf with its vein side down. Top with 3~4 tablespoonful stuffing (better if you squeeze the stuffing tightly into an egg shape) on the leaf and wrap from the delicate side of the leaf toward the thicker side. Roll up the leaf, folding in the side-ends so the stuffing is well sealed in. Place the rolled dolmehs tightly  against each other over the layered leaves (with rolled-end facing down).

◊   Pour vinegar/sugar mixture all over. Place another layer of odd shaped or leftover leaves over the lined dolmehs. Add enough hot water to barely cover the dolmehs.  Cover with foil tightly and bake for
60 minutes. At 30 minutes and 50 minutes check baking dish to make sure its liquid has not totally evaporated. Add hot water if needed. When it is fully cooked, some liquid should remain at the bottom of the baking dish.

◊   Take out of the oven and let sit for 10~15 minutes before serving.

Options: For vegetarian, skip the meat (but add caramelized onion and garlic), replace meat with additional rice, yellow-split-peas  -or-  1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts -and-  also, 1/3 cup raisins, dried currants or cranberries.

Warning:  Especially for children — assist them in cutting the cooked cabbage into small pieces.
It is hard to chew the fiber/veins and swallowing process may be dangerous.

~      Noushe jan!  •  نوش جان ~

So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?


  1. says

    Hi Fae, I love Dolmeh, I worked at a job where there were lots of Kurdish women, and a wonderful woman and good friend, brought Dolmeh to work for a carry in dinner, she rarely used cabbage leaves, she always made hers in red, green, yellow bell peppers, hollowed out onions, hollowed out tomatoes well basically anything that could be hollowed out and cooked, unfortunately Rezan, could not speak English well and and I tried for years to get her recipe, never did, i do know that she had Graham Marsala in the meat mixture, however I did find out that Graham Marsala is as varied as curry powder recipes, I loved hers and never have been able to duplicate the flavors in her recipe, as well as believe me Fae I have tried, I have had great Dolmeh (flavor wise) and very bad (flavor wise) Rezan made the best. HOWEVER, I am going to make your recipe, I must keep on looking! Your blog is great and you will have a new subscriber !!

    • says

      Hello Mitchell, Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a lovely comment. As in any cuisine, every family has its own flair to every dish. I am not familiar with the Kurdish style of dolmehs, but I think the addition of garam masala (Indian medley of spices) was Lady Rezan’s personal flair. These are two other dolmeh dishes I have posted, in-case you have not seen them yet: Stuffed Grape Leaves and Eggplant Dolmeh (I guest posted this one, the recipe will be at the blog, Relaxing Cooking). My recipe of the stuffing is as original as it comes in Persian cooking. You can always omit ingredient(s) you don’t like and add your twist to it. Let me know how it goes when you make it. 😀

      • says

        Hi Fae, Well you know I have searched Dolmeh online and found it must be something made in every Mediteranian country and otherwise over there, and did find ALL the recipes were different according to location, so I thought OK, make your own recipe, take 20 recipes and pick the differences between all and there you have it.
        I do wish that Rezan could have written the recipe, however I cannot say a word, as she does as most Mennonites do (there are no recipes) you just make it. So a lot of the time when I make a recipe to post, I take the pictures and have to write a recipe in order to have a post. LOL
        Thanks for your very kind reply, I really do love your blog Fae! I am so glad you came to my blog, that is how I discovered yours. :-)

  2. says

    You’re right that there is a recipe for stuffed cabbage in almost every cuisine of the world, and it’s true that they take a lot of time, but they really are worth all the time and effort.
    The Romanian version (the recipe was one of my first to post) is not cooked in the oven, but on the stove. All my friends here in Japan who ate it said it was delicious and asked me to make again.
    Freezing the cabbage sounds easier than blanching. I will give it a try next time.

    • says

      Traditionally, Iranians make the dish over the stove too. My mother always did. Now, presentable oven-proof dishes being available, two birds are killed with one stone. No extra pot to wash. 😀 )))

  3. says

    I made holubtsi (A Ukranian version of these cabbage rolls that I grew up eating) last week! They are a lot of work, but worth it in the end. It had been years since I had made them (I normally make “holubtsi casserole” with the same ingredients and taste minus all of the work if separating the leaves, rolling , etc.).

    I have never heard of freezing the cabbage before. Does this take the place of blanching the leaves to make them easier to roll?

    Thanks for sharing this version, I’ll have to try it next time! -Shelley.

    • says

      Hello and Welcome, Shelley, Yes, freezing cabbage (after coring) takes the place of blanching. I realized I was not clear on that and only mentioned it in my responses to the comments. I made it clear and also added a video I found, which is by none other than Julia Child & Jacques Pépin, explaining about freezing the cabbage. Please view.

  4. says

    Ah, I love these! I’ve never made them at home before though, mostly due to the expected amount of work involved. Love the look of your version, definitely bookmarked! Quite excited to try these! x

  5. says

    Oh yummers! I’ve had craving for these for a while – have not had any for, gosh … years! When I made the grape leave dolmeh thought of making these but forgot – thanks for reminding me and your awesome recipe. Bah bah bah!

  6. says

    Hi Fae, this looks great! I had the same question as Darya on the freezing part, so thanks for the answer to that and all the details, it was very useful for me too

  7. says

    Good enough reason to go with freezing them as I can’t stand the smell of boiled cabbage! Have to add, more seriously, that I’ve never seen what we call white cabbage being used to roll before. It’s usually Savoy (the very dark green crinkly one). I’m loving white and red cabbage raw at the moment. Anyway! Before I head off for much needed beauty sleep I just want to wish you, and yours, a wonderful Christmas and New Year – my favourite. After summer, that is :)

    • says

      Of course any cabbage will work, and just another way of eating cabbage and variety out of monotony. 😀 )))
      Thank you very much for the best wishes. I wish you and yours the happiest of this Holiday Season!

  8. says

    I LOVE this dish. It reminds me of my grandma’s Russian version, except with more fresh herbs and the addition of split peas. This is like my ultimate comfort food. I’m home when I’m eating these, wherever I am. She also uses a lot more tomatoes. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe.

  9. says

    I love stuffed cabbage Fae and your version sounds wonderful with all the herbs and split peas. Thank you for the tip about freezing the cabbage…that is very helpful.
    Thank you Fae, for adding the video. The funny thing is that I saw that show but didn’t remember the tip about freezing the cabbage. :)

  10. says

    These look wonderful, Fae. The preparation may be a bit involved but you broke it down into easy-to-follow steps and it isn’t at all as daunting as one would think. Great tip, too, about freezing the cabbage leaves before use. Loved, too, the advice for watching the littlest guests at the table. :)

  11. says

    This does sound delicious. On my to to list! never wrapped anything in cabbage before!
    That was awesome! I’ve seen a similar take on the braised cabbage done with cheesecloth. Saw that in a french movie called Haute Cuisine, it’s on netflix. thanks Fae!

  12. says

    This is such a fantastic dish, Fae! I would eat tons of it! Especially tonight since absolutely nothing is cooking in my kitchen. I’m in bed with a awful cold trying to survive. :-)

  13. says

    I loved this recipe, Fae! This is an absolute treat, a complete meal in itself. And I love the Indian feel to it – the Basmati rice and the split peas. Mmmm! I am trying this very soon!
    Can I replace the beef with minced soya? Or maybe some additional fresh veggies?
    xoxo :)

  14. says

    Dear Fae, this looks wonderful! I have only made my mom’s Russian stuffed cabbage so far, but this version sounds and looks absolutely delicious; I have had stuffed cabbage many times in Iraq, and it was always quite delicious, so I am quite sure your Persian version must be too; I just love the use of split peas, spices, and herbs, it must yield such a fragrant dish. I have a question: does freezing the cabbage overnight really help undo the leaves without tearing them? It is the first time I hear of this method and am intrigued! I have always found the “peeling” of the cabbage to be the most tedious and nerve-wrecking part of making stuffed cabbage! :)

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