Holubtsi in Ukraine
Golubtsi in Russia
Dolmeye kalam in Iran
By Sanaz Zardosht @sanazzardosht

This week I have made a Ukrainian & Russian meal inspired by my two dear friends and inspirational sisters; Alissa Timoshkina and Olia Hercules, to raise awareness of the invasion of Ukraine.

The fundraise initiative #cookforukraine was launched by Alissa Timoshkina, in collaboration with her best friend Olia Hercules, in hope of supporting Ukrainiens during this devastating time.

As Alissa puts it ‘’food is an important tool for education, a basic thing that everyone can relate to. What better way to learn about a people than through their food?”
She emphasis that the common ground between Ukraine and Russia once again is illustrated by food: ‘’Our taste buds show that we are more alike than apart.’’

Holubtsi, stuffed cabbage rolls

A meal for 4. For the cabbage rolls
1 large head cabbage
250g mince beef
1 dl rice (optional)
140g onion, finely diced
4x garlic cloves, grated
100g parsley, chopped
100g dill, chopped
2 tbsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
Lemon zest of 1

For the sauce
250g onion, finely diced
4 x garlic clove, grated
4 x chopped tomato
2 x carrot, grated
2 tsp tomato puree
2 x bay leaf
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp sugar
1- 2 tbsp Salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 x bunch of dill, chopped


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice cold water. Blanch 4 cabbage leaves at a time, 3 minutes per leaf. Using a tongue, take the leaf out of the water and into the ice bath, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain completely.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the onions together with the carrots and cook until soft. Add the turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper, stir. Cook for a further 5 minutes then add the tomato puree, chopped tomato, garlic, half the chopped parsley, 200 ml of boiling water and bring to a simmer for 25 minutes over a low heat. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground beef and the rest of the ingredients, mix thoroughly with your hands for a few minutes until combined. 
  4. Cut out the thick vein from the bottom of each leaf, making a v-shaped cut. Place 1 tablespoon of mixture on the end of the cabbage leaf, fold the sides of the cabbage over the filling, roll up and repeat.
  5. Place the cabbage rolls seam-side down on top of sauce by creating one even layer, place lid on and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. 
  6. This step is optional. You can grill the rolls to crisp the leaves. Place the rolls over on an oil lined baking tray, grill for 5 minutes in the oven. To serve, place the tomato sauce on a plate and serve the cabbage rolls on top. Garnish with parsley or dill.

I love this dish with a green side salad, yoghurt or creme fraiche.