The World Around Us

Cabbage Rolls… That’s Right, I Said Cabbage Rolls

Country: Mozambique by Marlowe


Cabbage rollsFor Lisette’s birthday, I decided to be a little bolder in the kitchen and try to make a childhood favorite of mine: Hungarian cabbage rolls. I can honestly say that only one other time (when I first made Hungarian kifli) did I achieve a greater deal of satisfaction from cooking. The satisfaction comes from finally being able to make the thing you loved growing up well enough to remind you of being a kid (and there have been many failures).

We are fortunate enough to live in a big city like Maputo, where you can get most fancy ingredients without too much trouble. Unlike my wife, I am going to share the recipe here:

(My mom, we’re part Hungarian)


  • 1 large head of cabbage
  • 1 and a half to 2 lbs. ground pork, beef or whatever ground meat you want to use. You can use it raw or browned, up to you
  • 1 cup of rice (preferably basmati washed and parboiled for about 2 minutes then drained)
  • 2 medium size onions (chopped)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley fresh or dried
  • 1 egg
  • 5 cans tomato soup (campbell is best)
  • 1 large can of tomato juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 beef bouillon cubes or 3-4 tbsps. of Bovril for flavour.  Be careful not to over salt although cabbage does tend to soak up the salt.
  • You can spice it up if you like with some cayenne pepper or chilies.


  1. Fill a stockpot with water, core your cabbage and drop it in the pot of boiling water. Gently simmer to let the cabbage wilt in the water so that it’s easier to peel off the leaves and for rolling.
  2. In a saucepan caramelize the onions and garlic.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the meat, drained cooled rice, onion and garlic mixture, parsley and egg, and your spices. Mix thoroughly.
  4. When the leaves have cooled a bit, take the a handful of the meat mixture, put it in the leaf and roll (not too tightly) to the edge and tuck in the ends.
  5. Repeat this till all the leaves and filling are used.  If you have meat mixture left you can stuff a green pepper or just put it in with the rolls and cook .
  6. If you have left over outer cabbage leaves you can line the casserole dish with them. Some people like a lot of cabbage.
  7. Cover the rolls with tomato soup, juice, beef broth and a couple of cups of the cabbage water.
  8. Put in oven at 350 degrees and cook for about two and a half to three hours.  You can stir them carefully once in a while.

A cucumber salad makes a great side. Cucumber shaved in slices in vinegar and water, salt and a little cayenne. A glass or two of wine, some crusty bread with butter and sour cream for the roll sauce if you like. All part of the total dish.