This mahshi crumb recipe, AKA stuffed cabbage rolls recipe, is one of those dishes that makes you feel like an imposter. The only other person you will know that makes this dish is your grandmother, and quite possibly your own mother. You will not hear of any newly married couples or college students making mahshi crumb for dinner night. It's a dish reserved for those who know how to cook, and when I mean cook, I mean cooked every day for the last 2 decades at least.
How can I explain this... it's like telling people that you make your pasta from scratch. There will be a look of "why on earth would you waste so much time making fresh pasta when you can do so many other things" with "wow, that is impressive". There might possibly be a third look of "I wonder how it turned out".
That's the kind of look you get when you tell another person from the Arab region that you made mahshi and you are under the age of 40 years old.
Stuffed cabbage rolls are not inherently difficult. They just take a little bit of skill more than stirring. These skills can be learned, and in fact, get better with each time you practice them. But don't be disappointed if things aren't entirely perfect the first go.
This recipe post is broken down into sections to help you get your stuffed cabbage roll on!
What I Love About This Recipe
The herb-flavored rice is unbelievable. It's made with dill, parsley, and cilantro in a homemade tomato sauce. I really like to make this recipe for weekend gatherings or special occasions because it's time-consuming and difficult to do. Mahshi crumb is best made with a rich homemade duck broth and cucumber mint yogurt salad. If you like mahshi crumb, you will probably like this mahshi sliced kousa casserole.
Ingredients You'll Need:
The mahshi rice stuffing has 3 main parts: a homemade tomato sauce, freshly chopped herbs, and rice.
- Fresh Tomatoes: Any type of tomato will work for this recipe except grape tomatoes.
- Onions: I recommend using white onions, sweet onions, or brown onions.
- Rice: I recommend medium-grain rice or Calrose rice.
- Herbs: This recipe calls for fresh parsley, cilantro, and dill. All of these herbs are crucial for getting the flavor right. I don't recommend using dried herbs.
- Spices: You will need a bouillon cube, salt, and pepper.
- Tomato paste: Any type of tomato paste will work.
- Cabbage: I recommend round cabbage for this recipe.
How to Make Mahshi Crumb
The secret for really great-tasting stuffed cabbage rolls is the herbs. This recipe does not use any meat, so it's vegetarian and vegan friendly. For the full instructions, refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Prepare The Ingredients
Prepare the Cabbage Leaves. Core out the center of the head of cabbage. In a boiled pot of water, slowly lower the cabbage.
Peel off the leaves one by one and set them aside.
Fry the onions. In a food processer, blend up 2 onions. Pan-fry the onions on medium-high heat with 3 tablespoon of olive oil for about 10 minutes.
Make the homemade tomato sauce. Blend 6 tomatoes in a blender and strain into a bowl. Add the strained tomato puree, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and 1 bouillon cube to the onion mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes covered.
Make the rice stuffing. Chop 1 cup each of parsley, cilantro, and dill into fine pieces. Add herbs to the tomato mixture. Add rice and continue to cook for 5 minutes on low heat covered. The rice will only be semi-cooked at the stage which is what we want. It will continue cooking once we add the broth. Allow the rice to cool off.
Roll The Cabbage Leaves
Take the cooked cabbage leaves, and cut out the stem. Cut the cabbage leaf into a triangle shape that has about 3" sides. For the larger cabbage leaves, you will be able to make 3 smaller leaves.
Put about 1 tablespoon of rice stuffing on the cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf by tucking in the sides.
Layer The Rolled Cabbage Leaves
Put a layer of cabbage stems and small cabbage leaves on the bottom of the pot. You can add any vegetables at your disposal. Layer the stuffed cabbage leaves in a circular pattern going row by row. Place the seam of the cabbage leaf down. This helps the leaves from unraveling. Once you have finished layering the rolled cabbage leaves. Slice some spicy pepper and spread on top.
Cook the Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
Heat up the broth in a separate pot. Add the boiling broth to the stuffed cabbage leaves, fully covering the leaves. If you have a plate that can fit in the pot, turn it upside down and lay it on top of the rolled cabbage leaves. The plate keeps the cabbage rolls from unraveling while cooking.
Cover and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Crack the lid and continue to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. You might experience some rice escaping if the rolls aren't tight enough. It will still taste glorious.
Ways to Eat Mahshi Crumb
I like eating my stuffed cabbage rolls with mint yogurt. If you don't have any fresh mint on hand, you can use dried mint. Just mix some chopped fresh mint, a pinch of salt, chopped cucumbers with some yogurt. Here's my recipe on how to make fresh yogurt (and Labneh).
I make this recipe in my Le Creuset 9 quart dutch oven. I've had this pot for over 6 years now, and use it almost weekly. I've heard of people passing their Le Creuset dutch ovens to their children.
The Classic Egyptian Kitchen
Egyptian Mahshi Crumb (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)
- 2 medium cabbage heads
- 3 cups Calrose rice short grain rice
- 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves only
- 1 cup chopped parsley leaves only
- 1 cup chopped dill
- 2 medium onions
- 6 tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bouillon cube
- 6 cups homemade chicken broth or duck broth vegetable broth for vegan
- 1 spicy pepper
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
Prepare the Cabbage Leaves
- Heat a very large pot of water on the stovetop.
- Cut into the cabbage head about 2 inches deep, removing the center of the cabbage. It will take a little bit of time to do.
- Put the whole head into the boiling water. Be careful to lower slowly so that the water doesn't splash.
- Using 2 forks, peel the outer layer of the cabbage and set aside.
- Repeat with the other cabbage head.
- An alternative way of preparing the cabbage is to remove the cabbage leaves prior to cooking. Then boil the leaves until they are tender.
Make the Rice Stuffing
- In a food processor, blend 2 peeled onions. The onions will be more grainy than if you had put them in the blender. This is the texture we want.
- In a blender, blend the tomatoes to a pulp. Strain the tomato mixture into a bowl.
- Chop dill, parsley, and cilantro into fine pieces. Set aside.
- Add a pot to the stovetop. Add olive oil and turn heat to medium-high.
- Add the onion mixture and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add the strained tomato mixture, bouillon cube, and tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes covered.
- Add the chopped parsley, dill, and cilantro. Add the rice. Turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove rice from heat, and allow to cool off. I usually put the rice into another bowl to cool faster.
Roll the Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
- On each cabbage leave, cut out the rigid stem. The cut will look like an elongated triangle. For the largest leave, you will cut the cabbage leaf into 3 sections. For medium cabbage leaves, you will cut into 2 sections, and for the smallest cabbage leaves, you will not cut at all.
- In a large pot, place cabbage stems and some of the smallest cabbage leaves on the bottom. This layer protects the bottom rolled cabbage leaves from burning when cooking.
- Put about 1 tablespoon of the rice mixture at the end of a cabbage leave. Roll and tuck in the sides.
- Place the rolled cabbage leaves in the pot making a circle, going layer by layer. Place the rolled cabbage leaves with the seam down to prevent from unraveling.
- Once all of the leaves have been rolled, slice a spicy pepper and add to the top.
Cook the Rolled Leaves
- Add a small plate face-down onto the cabbage leaves. This helps the leaves from unraveling while they are cooking.
- Add roughly 6 cups of boiling broth, or until the liquid completely covers the stuffed cabbage rolls.
- Turn the stovetop to medium-high heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Crack the lid on the pot to allow steam to escape. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
- This recipe can be made vegan or vegetarian if using vegetable broth in lieu of chicken broth or duck broth.