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Cabbage with bulgur and spices; Bulgurlu Lahana Kapuska


Cabbage with bulgur, ground meat and spices -Bulgurlu Lahana Kapuska

One of the joys of making stuffed cabbage rolls, Lahana Sarma, is the prospect of enjoying the equally delicious Lahana Kapuska; Cabbage with bulgur, ground meat and spices. Lahana Kapuska, almost a sort of deconstructed cabbage rolls, is not only easy to make but also a great way to use up the left over cabbage parts when making stuffed cabbage rolls.

Kapuska is a popular hearty stew and has many versions in Turkey. The name Kapuska is actually derived from the Russian language for cabbage and has many versions throughout Russia and Eastern Europe (Kapusta for instance is a wonderful cabbage based dish enjoyed in Poland). In Turkey, there are many versions of Kapuska with ground meat, chunks of meat, rice or bulgur. In Southern Turkey, we like to make Kapuska with bulgur, ground meat, onions, flavored with red pepper paste, dried mint and red pepper flakes. It is such a comforting and wholesome meal served with plain yoghurt; very easy too. For a vegetarian version, simply omit the meat.

Kapuska with bulgur, cabbage, red pepper paste and ground meat, Southern Turkish Style

Kapuska with bulgur, cabbage, red pepper paste and ground meat, Southern Turkish Style

Turkish hot red pepper paste, Biber Salcasi, is a rich, delicious paste of juicy, spicy red peppers and we use it often in Southern Turkish cookery. You can make your own red pepper paste at home with my recipe if you’d like. If you prefer a milder taste, you can replace the red pepper paste with tomato paste in the recipe and sprinkle red pepper flakes to your taste.

This delicious Kapuska recipe, along with many regional and popular Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed copies are now 25 % Off at  this link, delivered worldwide including the US.

I hope you enjoy my Kapuska recipe with bulgur. Afiyet Olsun,


4.7 from 6 reviews
Cabbage with bulgur, ground meat,spices; Bulgurlu Lahana Kapuska
Kapuska is a popular hearty stew and has many versions in Turkey. In Southern Turkey, we like to make Kapuska with bulgur, ground meat, onions, flavored with red pepper paste, dried mint and red pepper flakes. It is such a comforting and wholesome meal served with plain yoghurt; very easy too. For a vegetarian version, simply omit the meat.
Recipe type: Turkish style Cabbage Stew with bulgur
Cuisine: Southern Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
  • ½ head of medium cabbage or left over cabbage leaves from cabbage rolls - 700 gr, washed and coarsely chopped (remove the hard stalk in the middle)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 225gr/ 8 oz. / 1 cup coarse bulgur
  • 225 gr / 8 oz. ground (minced) beef or lamb
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper paste (optional; you can use additional 1 tbsp. tomato paste if not using red pepper paste)
  • 1 tbsp. double concentrated tomato paste
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 10 ml / 2 tsp. dried mint
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more, if you like spicier)
  • 16 fl. oz. / 2 cups hot water
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Plain yoghurt to serve
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and stir in the ground (minced) meat. Sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and coarsely chopped cabbage to the pan and sauté for another 4 -5 minutes (their volume will shrink as they cook).
  3. Stir in the bulgur, tomato paste, red pepper paste and water. Combine well.
  4. Add the lemon juice, red pepper flakes and dried mint and season with salt and ground black pepper.
  5. Bring to the boil then cover and cook over low heat for 15 - 20 minutes or until all cooked.
  6. Serve hot, with sprinkles of dried mint and red pepper flakes over top and a dollop of plain yoghurt by the side.
  7. Afiyet Olsun.
For the vegetarian version of Kapuska, simply omit the meat.

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39 Responses to Cabbage with bulgur and spices; Bulgurlu Lahana Kapuska

  1. seniordogsabroad January 12, 2016 at 3:13 am #


    Sounds like perfectly yummy ‘comfort food’. We love kapuska, but this is a nice, casual version. I don’t know where my recipe comes from but I don’t usually put so much mint in it, but the addition sounds terrific. We’ll for sure try it. İnşallah sen ve ailen çoook iyidir. Herkese bizden selam söyle ve sevgilerimizle xoxo J ve M

    • Ozlem Warren January 12, 2016 at 10:16 am #

      Jolee’cigim, merhaba, many thanks for your kind note. Addition of dried mint is a southern Turkish touch; it works very well with the red pepper flakes and lemon juice with cabbage, hope you enjoy this version too. I will be in touch shortly as I am coming to Istanbul in early February and would love to see you! Cok sevgilerimle, Ozlem xoxo

  2. Peri's Spice Ladle January 12, 2016 at 4:12 am #

    Great recipe, Ozlem. Cabbage rolls can get labor intensive, I like this simple and delicious way to enjoy a classic. The red pepper paste remains a family favorite. Many hugs, Peri.

    • Ozlem Warren January 12, 2016 at 10:14 am #

      Very kind of you dear Peri, I love your description, really is a simpler way of enjoying the flavors of stuffed cabbage. Hope you are all well, much love, Ozlem xx

  3. April Ozbilgin January 12, 2016 at 5:28 am #

    Looks so delicious. Great dish for this cold weather we have been having.

    • Ozlem Warren January 12, 2016 at 10:12 am #

      Thank you April, I feel the same, a great comforting dish for winter, my best wishes, Ozlem

  4. Alan January 12, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    people look at me askance when I say that cabbage is my favorite vegetable but that is the truth of it. From Bubble and Squeak to stuffed leaves I love them all.

    • Ozlem Warren January 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

      Love cabbage, lahana too Alan, so versatile and you can flavor it beautifully with olive oil and spices : )

  5. Turkey's For Life January 13, 2016 at 6:36 am #

    Love kapuska – we use cubes of meat rather than minced. Such a great comforting winter food…although our winter here has been quite mild here. We’ve still made it a couple of times though. 🙂 Happy new year to you. 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren January 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

      Many thanks Turkey’s For Life, a lovely dish, isn’t it? I loved the look of your Kapuska too, chucks of meat works great in it also. Enjoy the lovely weather in Fethiye, cok sevgiler, Ozlem x

  6. BacktoBodrum January 13, 2016 at 10:30 pm #

    I love cabbage but this dish ‘kapuska’ is a name I have only recently come across in Turkey. It’s has obviously taken its time travelling across Turkey to Bodrum

    • Ozlem Warren January 14, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

      Merhaba BB, Kapuska has so many version in Thrace region, Blacksea, Middle Anatolia and Southern Turkey, perhaps less known at the Aegean corner – hope you enjoy this version, cok sevgiler, Ozlem x

  7. Phil in the Kitchen January 13, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

    That sounds a lovely, straightforward way of using the other half of a cabbage – I often seem to have half a cabbage left. Next time I’ll definitely know what to do.

    • Ozlem Warren January 14, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Thanks Phil, cabbage is so bountiful isn’t it and good to have a some options to make use, I am glad it inspired, hope you enjoy it.

  8. Kelly January 18, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

    Tried your recipe at the weekend. DELICIOUS clean comfort food…. and very economical too! Thank you!

    • Ozlem Warren January 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

      Merhaba Kelly, delighted to get your note, so glad you enjoyed Kapuska! Indeed a very economical, easy comfort food, afiyet olsun!

  9. Dan January 20, 2016 at 3:37 am #

    Merhaba from San Francisco, where I’ve just enjoyed making and eating your Kapuska recipe. Perfect for this cold, rainy night. After visiting Turkey last spring, I’m happy to see how accessible Turkish cooking is for a home cook.

    • Ozlem Warren January 21, 2016 at 11:22 am #

      Merhaba Dan, thank you so much for your kind note, delighted to hear your enjoyed making Kapuska, hope it brings many happy memories of your visit to Turkey. Turkish cooking is really doable at home, so glad the recipe inspired.

  10. Elizabeth January 20, 2016 at 1:36 pm #

    This was excellent! I was skeptical about 2 teaspoons of dried mint. However, the flavor is PERFECT. This is first rate home-style cooking. I will definitely be making this again.

    • Ozlem Warren January 21, 2016 at 11:21 am #

      Thank you so much for your kind note Elizabeth, so glad to hear you enjoyed Kapuska! Love the refreshing taste dried mint brings, so glad you enjoyed it : ) Afiyet olsun, many thanks.

  11. Michelle C. January 22, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Hello Ozlem! I just discovered your website searching for a gozleme recipe. This looks excellent as well, and I have all the ingredients already in my house! I traveled to Istanbul and Northern Cyprus a few years ago, and I must say that I fell deeply in love with the food. I can’t wait to try your recipes!

    • Ozlem Warren January 22, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

      Merhaba Michelle, delighted to have you here; hope you enjoy my Gozleme and other recipes here and may them bring lots of happy memories for you, afiyet olsun!

  12. Govind November 6, 2016 at 4:40 am #

    HI. I have made this a few times now and can’t seem to have enormous go of it. Thanks for this recipe

    • Ozlem Warren November 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

      So glad you enjoyed it, many thanks for your note!

  13. JK August 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    Hi, this recipe looks great! But what kind of cabbage should I use? I dont cook with cabbage very often. Thanks!

    • Ozlem Warren August 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

      Merhaba, a large cabbage – with large leaves would be great for this recipe as the leaves need to be large enough to roll over the filling, hope you enjoy it, Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  14. Merve September 20, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    Has anyone tried the vegetarian version?

    • Ozlem Warren September 20, 2017 at 8:44 pm #

      Merhaba Merve, yes I did; it is delicious. I would add more onions and generous spicing with dried mint, red pepper flakes. Delicious with a squeeze of lemon over, Ozlem

  15. Carol Stewart December 19, 2017 at 10:47 pm #

    Merhaba and thank you for this wonderful recipe! My friend and neighbour is from Sinop and has introduced me to all things Turkish! I love Turkish cooking and my friend is an excellent cook, her name is Emine. She is responsible for me finding your delicious recipes, many, many thanks!

    Carol from Canada


    • Ozlem Warren December 20, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Merhaba dear Carol, what a lovely note, many thanks! Thanks to you and Emine, so glad you enjoy Turkish cuisine and my recipes here – I am hoping to make it to Canada with my cookery book next year, how wonderful it would be if i can get to meet you all. Needless to say, this recipe is in my book too : ) Best wishes for the festive season and Afiyet Olsun! Ozlem

  16. Suzette Nguyen July 26, 2018 at 8:16 pm #

    I just finished making this and have taken my first bites, and this is a delicious meal! And so easy to put together. I’m new to Turkish food and cuisine so this was a perfect dish to start with – thank you for sharing this recipe. I’m enjoying it and will find other recipes to enjoy from your site 🙂


    • Ozlem Warren July 30, 2018 at 1:34 pm #

      Merhaba dear Suzette, many thanks for your kind note, so glad you’re enjoying Turkish cuisine and my kapuska recipe here, Afiyet Olsun! I love the ease of this dish too, also very wholesome, hope you have a go at other delicious and healthy recipes at my blog. Also just to let you know, I have my Turkish cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, also available to order too – signed copies at the moment – with over 90 authentic recipes, at this link. Thank you and Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  17. Hakan & Kim September 16, 2020 at 5:38 pm #

    Hi Ozlem,

    My wife is American. She tried the cabbage with bulgur recipe and it turned out great.
    We are all busy working from home these days and have limited time for cooking.
    We’d greatly appreciate if you could continue to share with people like us easy to cook Turkish recipes with easy to find ingredients.

    Many thanks for sharing your insights,

    • Ozlem Warren September 18, 2020 at 11:31 am #

      Merhaba Hakan,

      So delighted to get your note that you and Kim enjoyed this Kapuska recipe – so many healthy, easy to make recipes we have in Turkish cuisine and a lot of recipes at my blog, hope you can give them a go, I will certainly continue to share more recipes.

      Over 90 authentic Turkish recipes also at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – signed copies make wonderful gifts and available at this link, delivered worldwide, kindle etc options here too

      My best wishes, any questions, happy to help,
      Afiyet Olsun,

  18. Karen Davis January 9, 2023 at 6:09 pm #

    I have been perusing various versions of Kapuska and none compare to this one that first introduced me to Kapuska and is the only one I use. I actually make mine in an Instant Pot now, 20 mins and then add the bulgar wheat for another 8. I also add red pepper just because I like it and I use a whole head of cabbage and 500g lamb mince. The other thing I do is add some pearl barley as well. I double up the tomato puree as I have struggled to get the red pepper paste. I absolutely love it, just wish we could buy the really coarse bulgar wheat in the UK. I first came across it on a Diabetic page and was attracted to it as I thought the bulgar wheat was pearl barley which I love, the great thing about it is it does not raise my blood sugar. Can’t say enough about it, love it.

    • Ozlem Warren January 10, 2023 at 4:28 pm #

      Merhaba Karen, So delighted to hear you have been enjoying Kapuska – pearl barley is a lovely idea. Just to let you know, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons all have coarse bulgur wheat. Afiyet olsun and thank you, Ozlem

  19. Ozlem Warren January 13, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

    Many thanks for your kind mention, so glad my Kapuska recipe inspired your wonderful version!


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    […] leaves, this is a wonderful and most satisfying winter dish. It is inspired by Ozlem Warren’s Bulguru Lahana Kapuska.  I substituted wheat berries (farro) for the bulgur, and omitted the pepper paste, adding lots of […]

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