Rolled Cabbage Leaves with Bulgur filling; Bulgurlu Lahana Sarma
Wholesome grain bulgur pairs with cabbage well and makes a delicious filling with ground meat, spices and onion. I hope you enjoy this Southern Turkish style rolled cabbage leaves with bulgur filling; it is delicious and wholesome. Plain yoghurt by the side complements the cabbage rolls very well. Afiyet Olsun!
Recipe type: Healthy Mains with bulgur and cabbage
Cuisine: Southern Turkish Cusine
Serves: 6
  • 200 gr/ 7 oz. / 1 cup coarse bulgur
  • 1 large cabbage (which yields about 20 large to medium cabbage leaves)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 225 gr/ 8 oz. ground (minced) beef or lamb
  • Small bunch of parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. dried mint
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. cumin
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the sauce:
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed with salt and finely chopped
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or 1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses)
  • 500 ml / 1 pint / 2 cups of water
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Dried mint and red pepper flakes to serve
  • Plain yoghurt to serve
  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
  2. Trim the bottom root and place the cabbage as whole in the pan with boiling water and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Remove the cabbage and leave it to cool. Then take a sharp knife and cut the outer leaves from the main stalk. The rest of the leaves will start to peel off without breaking one by one. Peel off about 20 large to medium leaves for rolling and set them aside (Please save the hard stalk or the hard middle part of the cabbage leaves, that is too small or hard to roll; they are delicious in Lahana Kapuska; cabbage cooked with rice, onions, ground meat and spices, which I will also share in the coming weeks).
  4. For the filling; combine the bulgur, chopped onion, parsley, olive oil, dried mint, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl. Knead well with your hands for a few minutes. Stir in the ground meat and knead for another minute to combine well.
  5. With a sharp knife, carefully trim and make a V shape cut to remove the thickest part of the stalk from the base of each cabbage leaf. Place 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon of the filling (depending on the size of the leaf) in the middle of the leaf. Fold in the sides and then roll the leaf up tightly. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
  6. Place the rolled leaves tightly in a heavy pan with seam side down, do the second layer too and pack tightly.
  7. For the sauce, mix together the water, olive oil, lemon juice (or 1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses), tomato paste and chopped garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste. Pour this sauce over the rolled cabbage leaves (the water should just about to cover the top of the rolled cabbage leaves). Place a plate on top of the leaves to stop them unraveling during cooking.
  8. Cover the pan and cook on low heat over stove top or burner for 40 – 45 minutes, simmering gently.
  9. Once cabbage rolls are cooked, serve hot, decorated with dried mint and red pepper flakes. Plain yoghurt complements this delicious cabbage rolls with bulgur filling, bulgurlu lahana sarmasi, beautifully. Afiyet Olsun.
Tip for separating the cabbage leaves; try to get a large cabbage with big, straight leaves. Trim the bottom root and place the cabbage as whole in a large pan with boiling water and simmer for 8 minutes. The leaves will start to peel off without breaking.
Recipe by Ozlem's Turkish Table at