Banlandeliai ( Cabbage rolls )

My him is not Asian and I barely speak a word of his native language. While I have no issues communicating with him, trying to establish a relationship with his parents was a huge issue. They are really sweet people but the only issue is that we do not understand each other. Which is why I picked up a few of his native dishes in an attempt to use food to establish a bond. And it did work to a certain extent. Using my poor knowledge of their language I managed to hold a decent conversation with his mum about this dish. My utmost gratitude to these amazing cabbage rolls for the first step in establishing a relationship, not only do they taste good but it’s also a lifesaver. Food is an international language and it incorporates our culture, history, trends and surroundings. So who knows, maybe one day food is the answer to world peace. 

INGREDIENTS

1 head cabbage
1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 cup cooked rice ( which I replaced with quinoa for a healthier alternative)
500g lean minced pork
1 egg (beaten)
3 bay leaves
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoon greek yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS

1) Place the entire cabbage in a large pot with the head at the bottom. Fill the pot till half filled and bring it to a boil.

2) Leave the cabbage in the pot for about 5 minutes before removing it. Carefully peel about 8 leaves from cabbage with the entire leaf intact. 

3) Place the peeled leaves back into the pot of salted boiling water and allow it to boil for about 8 minutes before removing it. Allow the leaves to cool slightly before using a knife to remove the hard part of the stem.

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4) In a small pan, add a teaspoon of oil and stir fry the onion and garlic till soft .

5) Mix the cooked rice/quinoa, pork , onion , garlic and beaten egg together in a large bowl. Ensure that all ingredients are cooled before mixing. 

6) Grab a cabbage leaf and a spoonful of mix. Place the leaf on a flat surface such that it is curving upwards with the stem nearer to you. Place the mix near the stem and roll the cabbage leaf away from you. If you run out of leaves, just repeat steps 1 – 3.

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7) Arrange the uncooked rolls in a pan.Coarsely chop the remaining cabbage and alternate between layers of cabbage and rolls. Whisk together the tomato sauce and chicken stock before pouring it over the cabbage rolls in the pan. Add the bay leaves to the pot and cover it. Bring the sauce to a boil before turning it to medium low heat and allow the cabbage rolls to simmer for about 1.5 hours. If the sauce does not fully cover the rolls, periodically drizzle sauce over the rolls while cooking.

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8) Remove the cabbage rolls and bay leaves from the pot. Stir in the greek yogurt. It is now ready to serve.These cabbage rolls are usually served with a side of boiled potatoes.

Bon appétit 

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