- green cabbage (1 medium)
- short grain rice, rinsed or soaked in water for 30 minutes (4 oz)
- minced lamb (½ lb)
- onion, finely chopped (1 medium)
- baharat spice blend (2 flat teaspoons)
- allspice berries (½ teaspoon)
- cinnamon ground (½ teaspoon)
- black pepper, freshly ground (1 teaspoon)
- dried mint (2 tablespoons)
- extra virgin olive oil (4 tablespoons)
- garlic (4 large cloves)
- fresh lemon juice (juice from 4 lemons)
- water (about 1 pint)
1. Remove and discard any of the outermost leaves of the cabbage that are blemished. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and plunge the whole cabbage in until the leaves can be peeled away without ripping – which should be around ten minutes. Drain well and when cool enough to handle, separate the leaves carefully setting them aside and chop the central core. Lay the larger cabbage leaves in front of you and cut out the thick central stem ribs of the leaves, dividing each leaf in two. Leave the smallest leaves whole. Place the chopped core and removed stems in a saucepan (about the size of a dinner plate).
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, knead together the rice, lamb, onion, baharat, allspice, cinnamon, salt and pepper until well blended.
3. Place about 1 tablespoon of the stuffing along the rib side of each leaf and roll up tightly without folding the sides over (the rice will not expand enough to damage the leaves) – making them look like thin cigars. Arrange the rolled cabbage leaves tightly next to each other on top of the cabbage ribs in the saucepan, with the seam facing downwards. Once you’ve got a single layer sprinkle with more salt and pepper, 3/4 teaspoon mint, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, half the garlic and half the lemon juice.
4. Continue stuffing and rolling the leaves and then layering them in the saucepan, sprinkling each layer with salt and pepper, mint, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.
5. When you’ve run out of the mixture, pour in enough of the water to barely cover the rolls. Put an inverted heavy dinner plate over the cabbage to hold them down. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat for about 20 minutes then reduce the heat to very low. Cover and simmer until tender – this should take about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Take out a roll to check if they’re done and if so serve hot.