History of Cabbage Rolls

Although the direct heritage of cabbage rolls cannot be certain, it’s lineage can be traced back to Jewish cooking some 2,000 years ago. Recipes vary among Jewish communities depending on region; Romanians and northern Poles prefer a savory sauce, while Jews from Galicia and Ukraine favor sweet-and-sour. Many variations of this traditional dish have since then been adapted throughout numerous cultures.

Here are a few of those variations, let them inspire you to taste cabbage rolls form around the world!

Jewish – holishkls

Served during the fall harvest festival. Made with raisins, brown sugar, lemon and tomato for a sweet and sour taste.

Bulgarian – sarmi

Made with veal, pork, finely chopped mint, sweet paprika and yogurt.

Romania – sarmale

Traditionally served on Christmas and New Year’s Eve but also served throughout the year at weddings, baptism parties, and other large celebrations.Ground pork is mixed with sauteed caramelized onions and rice stuffed in a cabbage leaf, pickled sauerkraut leaf or grape leaf. For flavor, they usually consist of layers with smoked pork fat, smoked ribs, or smoked sausage. Dry or fresh dill is a must, with a generous layer at the bottom of the pot and with additional dill finely chopped throughout the dish.

Ukrainian – holubtsi

Typical Ukrainian cabbage rolls can be made from either pickled or parboiled cabbage leaves. Fillings traditionally contain rice only, since the typical peasant diet was largely vegetarian due to the higher cost of meat. Nowadays they are generally stuffed with rice and beef or bacon. The finished rolls may be simmered in thinned tomato juice, beef stock, vegetable stock, or even miso broth. Made with sauerkraut and served with perogie.

Czechs & Croatians – sarma

Cabbage rolls are a staple diet of the population in Croatia. Stuffed cabbage with smoked ground pork is a Croatian favorite at Christmas.

Lithuanians – balandeliai

Served during the fall harvest festival. Made with raisins, brown sugar, lemon and tomato for a sweet and sour taste.

Russian – golubtsy

The Russian version of cabbage rolls usually consists of cooked meatballs wrapped in cabbage leaves. Rice is commonly added to the stuffing as well, but stuffing the rolls with rice only is rare, generally served with sour cream.

Polish – golabki

Golabki, pronounced gowumpkee is also known as Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and it’s a Polish dish consisting of cabbage leaves stuffed with a savory mix of beef, pork and rice or barely, generally served with a tomato based sauce.

Finnish – kaalikaaryle

Grounded pork or beef, onion, barley and rice are used as the filling elements, and the cabbage rolls are browned before brazing. Kaalikaayleet can be enjoyed as a main course dish during meals with boiled potato and lingoberries as accompaniments.