Stuffed cabbage rolls are probably the most iconic Polish dishes (together with pierogi). Easy to make, however, quite time-consuming, gołąbki are really delicious! In this post, I will give you an authentic Polish golumpki recipe that my mom uses every few weeks.
Golumpki or Gołąbki?
I was born and raised in Poland, so when I first read the name “golumpki” I had no idea what it is. It turned out that English speakers had a hard time reading Polish letters in the word “gołąbki”, so they used “golumpki” instead.
To sum up – the correct Polish name for stuffed cabbage is GOŁĄBKI, however, it’s totally fine to use variations such as:
Why Are These Old Fashioned Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Called Golabki?
In the Polish language “gołąbki” literally mean “small pigeons” or “doves”. What’s interesting is, when you read the etymology of this dish, you will soon find out that the name given to the Polish cabbage rolls is not that dumb.
It turns out that in the past, rich Poles have been eating pigeon meat wrapped in cabbage leaves. Poor villagers couldn’t afford to eat these expensive birds, so they made a budget version of this dish. They used cereal and potato filling instead, which is quite similar to the vegetarian version of the golumpki recipe we use today.
Where Did Golabki Originate?
Golabki originated in Eastern Europe. They made their way to Poland from Ukraine in the 19th century as a dish for the aristocrats.
At that time though, they were called ‘hołubci’ and consisted of doves stuffed with fillings and wrapped in cabbage leaves.
How Do You Make Old Fashioned Polish Stuffed Cabbage?
The recipe for Polish galumpkis is simple. Just follow a few easy steps and you’ll have perfectly Polish cabbage rolls.
Start making the golabki by first half-cooking the rice, followed by boiling the cabbage in salty hot water. Once the cabbage has cooled down, separate the leaves and keep them ready for forming the golabeks.
Next, start with the filling. Fry the chopped onions with mince and butter, and season them.
Now start with each cabbage leaf. First, spoon the meat-rice filling into a leaf, then wrap it up and put it in the dish ready to cook it in. Once you’ve rolled all the golumpki, cover them with the leftover cabbage water and cook for 1 to 2 hours till they’re soft.
Serve these delicious Polish stuffed cabbage rolls with mushroom sauce or tomato sauce! And that’s just perfect galumpki or golabki!
Tips For Making Polish Galumpki
Gołąbki taste best with sauces.
Although tomato sauce is the most popular to serve with golumpki, you can also make the mushroom sauce. I like the second one way more!
The proportion of meat and rice can be mixed.
Some people think that the filling for authentic Polish golumpki should be based on meat and rice should be only an addition.
Others prefer to make a “lighter” version, where there is more rice than meat.
Which team am I in? Definitely the second one! I hate when there is too much meat in the stuffed cabbage rolls. It makes the dish heavy and tasteless.
There are many variations of gołąbki recipe.
Although rice and meat filling is the most popular one, you can also use other variations that include:
- vegan golabki – with buckwheat, mushrooms, and rice
- millet, mushrooms, and rice
- millet and veggies
- potatoes and onions
- barley and veggies
These are the most popular vegetarian fillings for golumpki, however, you may come up with your own ideas. The only rule you need to follow is to make the filling sticky and compact, otherwise gołąbki may crack up.
Bonus Tips For Making Golabki!
- If you don’t have time to make a sauce, simply use any instant sauce to serve with gołąbki.
- You can cook golabki on the stovetop or using hob pots too!
- Every Polish family has a different way of making golabki. So you don’t have to stick to any particular rules!
- Don’t discard the outer leaves of the cabbage. Use them as liners for the golabki pan to prevent the golabki from burning.
- To make the rolls healthier, use brown rice instead of white.
How To Store Gołąbki?
- in the fridge for up to 4 days
- in the freezer for up to 3 months
Make sure to always keep sauces and gołąbki separately! Pour the sauce on the stuffed cabbage rolls right before serving.
How To Reheat Golumpki?
Here are some of the most popular ways for reheating gołąbki:
- in microwave
- in the pot with a bit of water
- in the oven
Other Frequently Asked Questions About The Recipe For Polish Galumpkis
Which Meat Should I Use To Make The Polish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls?
Galumpkis are traditionally made with minced beef or pork meat.
However, you can also use minced turkey or chicken meat if you prefer. Only remember that if you use chicken or turkey meat, they will be drier than beef and pork, and you’ll need to add a fair bit of fat, oil, or lard to the cabbage roll filling so that they don’t dry out.
Can You Make Golumpki Vegetarian?
Yes, here’s my vegan golabki recipe (follow the link).
What To Serve Golabki With?
Can You Find Golumpki In Other Places?
Yes, countries such as Croatia, Greece, Israel, Hungary, Germany, Russia, Sweden, and Turkey have dishes similar to the golabki.
In Greece, they’re called dolmadakia, in Croatia, they’re called sarma, in Croatia they’re called sarmale, in Israel they’re called holiszkes, and in other countries they have different names.
How Long Can You Store The Polish Golumpki?
Golumpki can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Put a layer of fat or tomato sauce between each layer of rolls before freezing. This will help them not to stick to each other.
Thaw and reheat in an oven or frying pan before serving.
Authentic Polish Golumpki Recipe
- 1 big cabbage (white or Italian)
- 1 ½ cup of rice
- 2 pounds of minced meat
- 3 onions
- salt, pepper
- 4 pounds of tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp of oil or olive oil
- salt, pepper,
- 10 oz of mushrooms (champignons)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 onions
- 2 tbsp of Greek yoghurt or sour cream
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 2 cups of broth or water
- 1 tbsp of flour
- oil, salt, pepper
- Cook the rice in half the time stated on the packaging. It should be middle-hard (semi-cooked.
- Wash the cabbage and remove the outer leaves.
- Remove the core and put the cabbage inside the boiling hot salty water.
- Depending on the type of cabbage, boil for 1-10 minutes, until the leaves are softer and flexible enough to form gołąbki.
- Drain and cool down the cabbage. Leave the water from the cabbage, you will need it later.
- Separate the leaves- you will use each leave to form gołąbek.
- Peel and chop the onions. Fry them with minced meat and a bit of oil or butter.
- Mix rice, onions, and meat together. Season with salt and pepper. If the filling is too dry, add melted butter or broth to make sure it's easy to wrap in the cabbage leaves.
- Place the raw, outer cabbage leaves on the bottom of the heat-resistant dish.
- Start forming gołąbki: take each leave, put the meat-rice filling inside, and wrap it carefully. See this video if you don't know how to do it.
- Place gołąbki in the heat-resistant dish. They should tightly cling to each other.
- Pour the cabbage water into the heat-resistant dish. They should cover 1/5-2/3 of the dish (not more than half of the dish!).
- Cover the dish with the lid.
- Place in the oven heated to 356°F (180°C). Cook for 1-1,5h (until they are soft). After 40 minutes check if there is enough water in the dish. If not, add some more to make sure gołąbki won't burn.
- TOMATO SAUCE- peel and dice the tomatoes and boil them with a bit of water. Fry the minced garlic and onion on oil. When they are soft, add to the tomatoes and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- MUSHROOM SAUCE- peel and dice onions and mushrooms. Fry them on butter with minced garlic for 5-10 minutes. Add broth or water, cover the dish with a lid and simmer until soft (10-15 minutes). Mix the flour with sour cream, add 2 tbsps of mushroom sauce. Slowly pour the flour-cream mix to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
If you don't have a heat-resistant dish, you may use the standard pot and cook gołąbki on the stove/hob.
For a vegetarian version of gołąbki, use buckwheat or mushrooms instead of meat.
You can skip making sauces, choose only one, or simply use any instant sauce to serve with gołąbki.
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