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Mom’s Cabbage Rolls Golubtsy Голубцы Recipe

Russian golubtsy also known in my family as Sarma (in Turkish) are simply cabbage rolls. They are popular in many European countries. It is believed that this dish was borrowed by Russians/Ukrainians from Turkey. Sarma means “wrapping” or “rolling” in Turkish.

I love when my nephew Jacob calls them “Goluptchiky”. Golubtsy, Goluptsi, Golupchiky, Sarma or Cabbage Rolls… no matter how you call them, they are very very delicious…. Minced meat (usually beef, pork, or chicken) rice, onions, and various spices, including salt, pepper and various spices are mixed together and then rolled into grape or cabbage leaves.

I absolutely love my mom’s golubtsy/sarma. She makes them combination rolled in grape and cabbage leaves (my favorite is with grape leaves) very flavorful, very moist and super tiny, bite size even. I am posting the recipe that my mom gave me and I attempted to make them just like hers. My dad got to try them and according to him they taste just like my moms! YES!!!

They make great next day leftovers (just reheat in the microwave). Or freeze them and enjoy some other day.

Serves 8-10

2 medium heads of cabbage
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 large onions, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 lb. ground chicken or turkey
2 cups uncooked rice
1 tsp. tomato paste
1Tbsp. sweet paprika- powder or red pepper paste
1tsp. cumin- powder
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. butter
3 cups of chicken stock
Tomato Sauce:
1 can14oz tomatoes – crushed
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh dill- chopped
Combine 1 gallon of water, 1teaspoon of salt and lemon juice in a large pot of water and bring to a boil;

Remove the core from the head of cabbage and place it in a pot of boiling water.

Boil the cabbage for about 5 minutes until the leaves begin to release from the head. Peel the leaves off, the ones that are peeling easily (remove them using the fork) and place in a strainer to drain and cool. After your removed layers of leaves keep boiling the rest of the cabbage for another 1-2 minutes. Peel the rest until all cabbage leaves have been removed.

Meanwhile, in a large pot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots sauté until softened, but not browned, 2-3 minutes.

Add ground meat, sauté for additional 3-5 minutes. Add tomato paste, bay leaf, salt, black pepper, paprika, cumin and washed rice- mix well.

Pour 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil and then quickly lower to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave untouched for 5 to 10 minutes.  Transfer mixture in to a bowl, mix and let it cool.

For the sauce: Heat the oil in a sauté pan; add onions and garlic and sauté for few minutes. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper and cook at a low/ simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Add fresh chopped dill, adjust seasonings to taste.  Turn off the heat and set aside.
Stuffing and Rolling: When the leaves in the strainer are cool enough to handle, use a knife to remove the tough stem from each leaf

and cut each leaf in half. (Yes, our golubtsy are going to be medium/small size.

Place a tablespoon of meat filling on each leaf. 

Flip up the bottom, then fold the sides in, and roll up.

Layer the cabbage rolls in a deep casserole dish or Dutch oven on top of the chopped cabbage (for chopped cabbage, usually I use broken leafs that I am not going to stuff).

Preheat oven to 35oF. Add 1-2 tablespoon of the sauce to each layer of cabbage rolls. Pour chicken stock over the cabbage rolls in the casserole dish to help the steaming process as the dish cooks. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 ½ hours .

Best if served with sour cream.


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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Larisa G 11/12/2012, 1:57 PM

    These are the best Golubtsy recipe, well worth the time.

  • nadia 11/12/2012, 9:47 PM

    You guys make the best goluptsi ever!!!!thanks for sharing the recipe.

    • Inessa 11/12/2012, 10:24 PM

      you are welcome Nadia…
      I got so many requests for this recipe, I finally posted
      Thank you 😉

  • Tanya 11/19/2012, 1:24 PM

    Perfect. My mom makes them with pork and I’m not a pork eater, now I can actually eat them 🙂 Also I was wondering if you know a recipe for the kartoshka that has always been made at weddings, the red one?

    • Inessa 11/19/2012, 1:31 PM

      Thanks Tanya. For kartoshka, yes I have the recipe..will definitely post it. 🙂

      • Tanya 11/19/2012, 1:46 PM

        Thank you so much, can’t wait.

  • Vic 11/19/2012, 10:58 PM

    Well Iam looking to something like this on Thursday …..what you say ?

  • Elena 01/15/2013, 12:32 PM

    You state to bake them. What do you preheat the oven to? My mom usually does it on the stove. Can’t wait to try them!

    • Inessa 01/15/2013, 8:46 PM

      Thanks Elena for bringing that up 😉
      I updated. You bake at 350F. soooo good. Enjoy!!!

  • Ksuha 10/02/2013, 11:20 PM

    Looks delicious!! Will have to try your recipe 🙂

    • Inessa 10/08/2013, 7:50 PM

      Thank you Ksuha, give it a try 🙂

  • Nelya 11/23/2015, 10:58 AM

    You meant “diced” onion instead of quartered, right?

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