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Recipe Collection

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Holubtsy)

Kris Kirkham — Mamushka — 2015

Traditionally we use firm white cabbage leaves, so if you want more of a traditional taste, please use those, they just may need to be blanched for three minutes instead of two. My grandmother Lusya also used to make a version using wheat berries or buckwheat instead of rice and whole fermented cabbage leaves instead of fresh cabbage. The combination of sharp cabbage and luscious pork is incredible. I add barberries to my golubtsy to achieve that sour note. But you don’t have to use those if they are hard to find.

Serves: 6

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Photography: Kris Kirkham

Season: Winter/Spring


2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, grated
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 head Savoy cabbage, 12 leaves separated
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper

250g beef mince
250g pork mince
160g rice, parboiled and drained
40g barberries (optional)

to serve
100ml sour cream
½ small bunch dill, finely chopped



  1. Make the sauce first. Heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole. Fry half of the onion and the grated carrot over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and 400ml water and season well.

  2. Blanch the cabbage leaves for 2 minutes in boiling water. Then refresh them in cold water and drain well on kitchen paper.

  3. Mix the minces, parboiled rice, barberries, seasoning and the remaining diced onion. Place 50g of the filling on to each cabbage leaf and fold into parcels.

  4. Place the parcels on top of the sauce, folded side down, tucking them next to each other snugly so they do not unravel.

  5. Cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with lots of chopped dill, sourdough bread and a dollop of sour cream on the side.

Read more: #CookForUkraine

As part of their #CookForUkraine, Ukranian chef Olia Hercules and Russian food creative Alissa Timoshkina are sharing recipes and hosting fundraising events in an effort to increase awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Read more about the charity and donate by clicking the link below. This recipe was extracted from Olia Hercules’s wonderful book Mamushka (2015).

— about the author

Olia Hercules was born in the south of Ukraine in 1984, and spent most of her childhood in Cyprus. After moving to the UK and working as a chef in restaurants such as Ottolenghi, she published Mamushka, a cookbook that celebrates her family recipes, from Ukraine and Moldova to Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. She has since published two more cookbooks, championing the culinary traditions of her homeland and surrounding, lesser known cultures.


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