Kåldolmar - Cabbage Dolma (rolls)

One of the most appreciated dishes in traditional Swedish cooking. They require some effort but they really are worth it! According to tradition it was swedes serving under Charles XII who brought this dish and its name from Bender or Adrianopolis after losing the battle of Poltava, where the Swedish Army endured for a long time. Other sources say that the dish made its way here with Turks who followed the Swedes back to Sweden to secure repayment of loans they had made. Though the exact origin in the 1700's is unclear, what is certain is that the custom of covering meat in wine leaves came from the Ottoman Empire and that Swedes started using cabbage leaves instead of wine for obvious reasons. To commemorate the death of Charles XII, we celebrate "Cabbage Dolma Day" on the 30th of November.

Here is our family recipe, serves 4-6:


1 medium white cabbage
2 tsp salt in 1 liter of water

0.5 dl short grain rice
2 dl water + 2 dl milk

rice for stuffing, prepared as below

500 g ground beef and pork (I use a mix of half of each)

1 egg
1 onion, chopped and sweated (don't let them brown) and cooled
0.75 -1 dl creamsalt + white pepper to season

1-2 tbsp fat (butter or lard) + 2-3 tblsp syrup
4-5 dl stock + liquid from the cabbage


juices from frying pan
1.5 tbsp flour
1 dl cream
salt + white pepper
soy sauce


Cook the rice in 2 dl water on slow heat until water evaporates. Add the milk and let the rice simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Stir now and then. Let the rice cool.

Make the filling: place the minced meat in a bowl and add the cooled rice, the cooled onion, egg and cream. Season with salt and pepper and mix together. It should form a loose mixture.

Cut out the center stem from the cabbage. Put the cabbage in a pot and cook it in boiling water until it starts to soften and the leaves start to come loose. Be careful not to overcook it or the leaves will break.

Remove the cabbage from the pot reserve the cooking water. Let the water drain out of the cabbage. Pluck off the leaves one by one, careful to get them intact. Trim off the thick outer vein in the middle of each leaf.

Place 1-2 tbsp filling on each leaf. Fold in the long sides of the dolmas and then roll from the short end.

Heat up a frying pan. Add fat and fry the dolmas in batches, on all sides. Place them in a baking tray and drizzle the syrup over them. Add some stock and cabbage water to the frying pan and whisk to loosen the caramelized juices from the dolmas.

Braise the dolmas in the oven, approximately 1 - 1.5 hours. The cooking time is determined on how fresh the cabbage is. Occasionally open the oven and pour some of the juices over the dolmas. (You can also cook them in a pan on the stove, then make sure they are covered in juices or turn them over occasionally.)

When cooked, lift up the dolmas, place on a serving platter and keep warm. Por the juices that are left in the tray or pan into a pot and whisk in the flour. Add cream and let it come to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add more cabbage water or stock to taste. Add soy sauce if the sauce needs color.

Serve with potatoes and lingonberry jam (absolutely essential), boiled or raw carrots and a green salad.  I hope you enjoy!


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