9 November 2014


Kåldolmar translates to cabbage rolls and is one of my favourite school dinner dishes. It appears these have been made in Sweden since the 18th century and are heavily influenced by the vine leaf rolls made in the Eastern Mediterranean. They differ from the Bulgarian sarma in that they are wrapped in "fresh" cabbage, which is surprisingly sweet.


My original intention was to try and recreate a dish I had in Latvia a couple of years ago, but I was running late and decided to go for the Swedish variant. I did have left over mince mixture, so I'll try out the Latvian version as well in the coming days. As a guidance I used this recipe (in Swedish).


4 dl mushroom stock
1 ½ dl arborio rice
1 -2 white cabbages
water and salt for blanching
1 medium sized onion
20 g butter
800 g beef mince
2 large eggs
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
butter for greasing

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
½ l milk
the baking liquid from the cabbage rolls
2 dl parboiled yellow foot mushrooms
salt and pepper

Steamed vegetables


  1. Bring the mushroom stock to the boil and add the arborio rice. Let simmer until the rice is ready and has turned to a watery porridge consistency.
  2. In a large casserole, bring a lot of water to the boil along with some salt. In the mean time, carefully peel off the leaves from the cabbage(s). You'll need about 30 or so leaves.
  3. Place the cabbage leaves in the boiling salty water for a few minutes to blanch and soften them up, so they are easier to handle. Then drain well and set aside.
  4. Peel the onion and chop very finely (or whizz in a food processor), then fry for a few minutes in the butter.
  5. Place the mince in a large bowl and stir in the rice and onion to combine well.
  6. At this point the mixture shouldn't be too hot. Add the eggs and the dried herbs as well as salt and pepper and mix well.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan and butter a large deep baking tray.
  8. Take one cabbage leaf at a time, place some of the mince mixture in it (about the size of a golf ball) and roll up the leaf into a package.
  9. Place in the baking dish and continue until it has been filled.
    Add 4 dl of the blanching water to the baking dish.
  10. Place a small knob of butter on each cabbage roll, then place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. If the cabbage leaves go brown, cover with aluminium foil.
  11. Now make the sauce by heating up the butter and stirring in the flour.
  12. Fry for a minute or so, then start adding the milk, a little at a time and stir constantly so it doesn't burn.
  13. Once all the milk is in, add the mushrooms, season and leave to simmer for a few minutes, then take off the hob.
  14. When the cabbage rolls are ready, remove from the oven, then pour in their cooking liquid into the mushroom sauce, stir it in and bring the sauce to the boil once again.
  15. As a garnish, steam some vegetables like carrots, cauliflower and French beans.
  16. Ready to serve.

Now reading through the Swedish recipe, it didn't have any herbs or spices for the mince mixture, which I thought was quite strange. Looking at a few more recipes, they all seemed to skip this as well, but I thought this wouldn't work at all. I should have added a bit more than I did in fact, or left the mince mixture for a few hours so that flavours would develop better.

As for the mushroom stock, this is the liquid I save from canned mushrooms. It freezes quite nicely and adds a nice flavour to rice or sauces where water is called for.

I'm very pleased with the end result though and Lundulph liked them too. I particularly liked the mushroom sauce and am pretty sure I'll have to do another batch, to allow us to finish the cabbage rolls. I saved a further ½ l of the blanching liquid and I have more cabbage leaves to go as well. Actually, peeling off the leaves proved quite tricky and I ended up breaking most of the leaves. Now that the two cabbage heads are quite small, I think I'll place them in the blanching liquid and then try to prise off the leaves. I just need to be careful not to boil them for too long, I want to keep some of the crunch.

I also think the cabbage rolls would work with the Madeira sauce I made a couple of years back. And to add even more flavour to the mince mixture, I think capers would be nice too.

As I mentioned, I was running late with the dinner, so completely forgot to steam vegetables. Instead I garnished with sprouted alfalfa, this worked quite OK as well.

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