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Malfouf on a serving plate - featured photo


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Wafa Shami
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Palestinian, Middle Eastern


Malfouf is stuffed cabbage leaves filled with a flavorful mixture of ground meat, rice, and spices rolled and then cooked. Served hot with lots of squeezed fresh lemon juice.

Malfouf is the perfect meal during cold weather, it’s a hearty warm dish making it a popular choice for family gatherings, special occasions, and any weekday dinner night.


  • 2 cups Egyptian or cal-rose rice, washed and rinsed
  • 2 medium size cabbage
  • 1/2 pound ground or minced lamb or beef (or a mixture of both)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoon salt (and some to add with boiled water)
  • 1/4 cup of neutral or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • fresh lemon juice (as needed)


Preparing the Cabbage:

  1. With a sharp or pairing knife cut around on top to remove the head of the cabbage.
  2. Fill up a large pot with hot water over medium heat, sprinkle some salt, place the cabbage, and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Once boiling, the leaves start to loosen, you can use a pair of tongs and gently help to peel off the leaves. Keep them in the boiling water under medium heat for another 2 minutes, make sure that the leaves are completely dipped in water.
  4. With using tongs pick the leaves in a strainer to drain and cool off.

Preparing the Stuffing

  1. In a bowl, add washed and rinsed rice, meat (minced or ground), cumin, allspice, salt, and neutral or olive oil.
  2. Mix all together until well combined.

Rolling Cabbage Leaves

  1. Cut off large stalks in the middle of each leaf and cut the leaf from the middle splitting it into two.
  2. Place each leaf on a smooth surface. Add about one teaspoon of the rice mixture to each leaf and then spread it across the leaf.
  3. Roll the leaf forward toward the stuffing (it's okay to leave the roll edges open). Repeat for each leaf until all leaves are rolled.
  4. Fill up the pot and in between layers scatter unpeeled garlic cloves. Sprinkle salt on the top of the pot, and butter or oil then pour hot boiled water, filling up about ¾ of the pot. Place on high-medium heat, once it starts boiling, cover it with the lid and let it simmer on low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


  • To make sure food won't be wasted, you can use the cabbage stem removed from each leaf by placing them at the bottom of the pot under the rolled malfouf and serve with the dish.
  • Or you can chop them and saute them with olive oil and onions. Heat olive oil in a pot then caramelize onion chop cabbage stems and cook until tender, add salt and cumin.
  • The inner core of the cabbage where the leaves are tight and won’t separate, can be stuffed with the remainder of the stuffing mixture if left with any.
  • Cutting the head of the cabbage can be challenging, make sure to cut around the head with a sharp or pairing knife, then with your hands try to loosen the head until it comes out. 
  • When boiling the cabbage make sure the water is not filled to the top as you need to have enough space to place the cabbage.
  • Make sure not to over-boil cabbage leaves, then they’ll be too soft and break while rolling, keep in mind the idea of boiling is to soften the leaves so they’re easy to roll.
  • Make sure not to over stuff the cabbage leaf.
  • Since rolling malfouf can be time consuming, the process can be done a day before and kept in the fridge.