Dolmeh y Kalam or stuffed cabbage leaves

I really love to eat dolmeh, any dolmeh and the great thing is, you can use almost any vegetable for dolmeh. Dolmeh y Kalam is a recipe I learnt from sister-in-law who is from the north west of Iran and so this recipe is probably a regional variation. You can substitute the cabbage leaves for aubergine, potatoe, peppers, onions and leave out the meat if you want  to make it vegetarian. There are specific differences in the herbs you use but this is the basic method and recipe for dolmeh in general.

This is not  a recipe for those who are new to Persian cooking as it’s quite fiddly and time consuming. All in all you probably need to set about 3 hours aside, at least an hour is needed for the preparation alone.


Ingredients ~

  • 1 large white cabbage
  • 1/2 lb minced beef or lamb
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4  cup split yellow peas
  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cummin
  • a good handful of flat leaved parsley
  • a good handful of tarragon
  • a good handful of dill
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper


  1. Core the cabbage and place in a large pan of boiling water. After a few minutes you will start to see the leaves of the cabbage falling away. Help ease them off being careful not to damage or tear the leaves or burn your self.
  2. Allow the leaves to sit in the simmering water for about 5 mins or so until the stalky bit has began to soften.
  3. When soft, remove from the water and put to one side to cool.
  4. Cook the split yellow peas in 2 cups of salted water until soft. Drain and put to one side.
  5. Cook the rice in salted water until soft to bite, drain and put to one side.


  1. Chop the onion and cook in a tablespoon of oil, add the meat and brown off.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir in. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, meat and split yellow peas and stir gently.
  4. Add the cinnamon, cummin and salt and pepper and stir.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a heavy bottomed non stick pan ( one with a lid) and heat. Take a few of the cabbage leaves ( I usually use any that have been damaged or the really small ones as they are difficult to stuff) and place at the bottom of the pan. This prevents the dolmeh from burning.
  6. Take a desert spoon of the meat and rice mixture and place at the stalky end of the cabbage leaf.  Gently begin to roll the leaf, being careful to tuck the sides  in as tightly as possible  so that none of the mix will escape during the cooking process. This is quite difficult at first and it will probably take you a few times to get the hang of it. Don’t try to put too much meat mix in the leaf or you will have difficulty in rolling it.
  7. Arrange these in the pan layering them on top of each other.
  8. Add 1 cup of water and two tablespoons of lime juice, a pinch of salt and cover with pan lid. Alternatively you can cook them in the oven at about 200 oc. Some people like to cook this is tomato juice and to add a little sugar.
  9. Now leave to cook on a low heat for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours, checking periodically and basting with the juices.
  10. When cooked, gently remove from the pan and place on a serving dish.

Serve with salad, and natural yoghurt.

~Nooshi joonet ~


10 thoughts on “Dolmeh y Kalam or stuffed cabbage leaves

  1. This is probably the only Middle Eastern recipe I know from memory – Dolma – and I’ve never attempted it because like you say, it is so time consuming and fiddly. I used to image a huge gathering of women sat around scooping out various vegetables and filling them with rice. 🙂

    I will definitely try this recipe though, as it’s quite different from my mother’s Kurdish version. 🙂

    1. hi aziz , although this recipe is from NW, my sis in law lives near Kermanshah so it might have a slight kurdish influence … I dont know ! You’ll have to let me know! Yep it’s time consumming but make enough and freeze some for another time !Good luck, hope you like it 🙂

  2. This website was nice to find …I know Persian food is the health way to go …Making food fresh everyday , even when you are working and busy ,benefits your body

  3. Hello Dear, i love this recipe, I tried the stuffing mix in grape leaves turkish style and it’s delicious. I will try this for my family they love me to cook iranian food which i learned from an iranian ex-boyfriend, then I married an iranian guy! who also loves to cook and I am learning much more LOL…love your website!

    1. Hi Mary … hey thats great 🙂 Dolmeh is one of my favorite dishes and I will soon add a new recipe. So come back and see it. Thanks for your comment, its so good to hear that people are using it. 😀

  4. I frequent a Persian restaurant and I ALWAYS have to have Dolmeh y Kalam, along with Jujet koresht or Shrimp kabobs (which are most likely Americanized, I know) The meal just isn’t the same without the Dolmeh! This picture looks a tad different than when Ahmad serves it, and I’m pretty sure he uses chickpeas, rather than split peas – which are pretty much the same, I know! – but I’m willing to give it a try! Can’t wait!

    1. Hey Tammy …. I think there are many variations although I have never used or been served Dolmeh y kalam or any dolmeh using chickpeas!, Im guessing Ahmad is using his own recipe. Why dont you ask him??? It might be a family or reginal variation. Let me know 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s