Stuffed Cabbage Leaves


Cabbage is an extractive vegetable. This means, in its very nature, it has an ability to pull, scrape, and remove. Because of these actions it helps cleanse the body of toxins, regulate a healthy weight and reduce excess kapha

Its taste is primarily bitter, so be thoughtful of consuming large quantities, as it can aggravate vata dosha. However, when combined in the right proportion with augmenting foods and it is cooked well with water and oil, cabbage is beneficial for all doshas. 

Cabbage, like many other vegetables, have been bred and hybridized to be less bitter and more sweet. As your palette for flavor expands and you become more sensitive to the inherent taste of particular foods you may seek out varieties that are either sweeter or more bitter. This is a fascinating aspect of the tastes within food and, as a result, cause and effect.  

Many cultures, from Eastern Europe, to the Middle East, to Asia have cabbage leaf recipes which are then stuffed with a combination of meat, rice, or vegetable. Here is a vegetarian adaptation of Golubtsi, a Russian recipe, using red and white rice to create the filling. 

You can make these and enjoy as is or include them as a side dish when building out your 60:40 balanced bowl. See tips and suggestions below for menu ideas. 

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Augmenting and Extractive

You'll need

  • Rice

    • ½ cup red rice, rinsed and soaked 4+ hours in advance

    • ½ cup white basmati rice, rinsed

    • ⅔ tsp mineral salt

    • 1 tbsp ghee


    Cabbage Leaves

    • 8 large cabbage leaves 

    • ¼ cup boiling water



    • 1 tbsp ghee

    • ½ tsp mustard seeds

    • 2 tsp coriander seeds

    • ⅓ tsp mineral salt

    • ¼ tsp hing

    • ½ small beetroot, finely chopped

    • 2 small carrots, grated

    • ⅓ cup beetroot stalks or swiss chard

    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill

    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley



    • 1 tbsp ghee to sauté

    • lime juice

Here's how


  1. Soak the rice in 2 cups of water for 4 hours.

  2. Add salt and ghee and cook until the red rice is just soft (about 30 minutes covered on the stove top, or 15 minutes in a pressure cooker).

Cabbage Leaves

  1. Cook the leaves covered in the boiling water for 2 minutes.

  2. Use tongs to flip each leaf and continue to cook for 1 more minute.

  3. Remove the leaves and let them cool down a little. Reserve the water for another dish as it is full of nutrients.

  4. Keeping a knife parallel to the leaf, slice off the thick part of the stem. Chop these cuts from the stems and incorporate into the filling mixture. 


  1. Heat the ghee, add the whole spices, and cook until the mustard seeds start to pop.

  2. Stir in the salt and the hing, followed by the vegetables.

  3. Add a splash of water and cook covered for 10 minutes.

  4. Stir in the fresh herbs. And let sit for 5 minutes.


  1. Place about 1 tbsp rice and 1 tbsp filling onto a leaf. Fold each side inward to form a square. Repeat with the rest.

  2. Sauté the squares in the ghee, covered, for about 3 minutes on each side. 

  3. Add a splash of water and continue to simmer under a lid for 5-10 minutes until soft.

  4. Serve with a few drops of lime juice over each square.


Menu Idea: Baked winter squash, stuffed cabbage leaves and lentil stew. 

The filling mixture that we suggested is just one of many options. What filling will you create? Consider other grains like buckwheat, teff, or brown rice. Changing the spices will make a difference as well.

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