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.
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, available to order at this link.
I hope you enjoy my Kapuska recipe with bulgur. Afiyet Olsun,
- 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
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan and stir in the ground (minced) meat. Sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the onions and coarsely chopped cabbage to the pan and sauté for another 4 -5 minutes (their volume will shrink as they cook).
- Stir in the bulgur, tomato paste, red pepper paste and water. Combine well.
- Add the lemon juice, red pepper flakes and dried mint and season with salt and ground black pepper.
- Bring to the boil then cover and cook over low heat for 15 - 20 minutes or until all cooked.
- Serve hot, with sprinkles of dried mint and red pepper flakes over top and a dollop of plain yoghurt by the side.
- Afiyet Olsun.