This is one of those dishes that I liked a lot when I was a kid, which surprised my mother a lot. I was very picky with eating “fancier” dishes. But veggie dishes like this one, I ate without question. That is of course, as long as she cooked it without meat.
There are a few versions of how to make kapuska, and they generally involve meat. Ground beef mostly. I never liked adding meat to vegetable dishes, and my mother didn’t mix the two, but every once in a while, she added ground beef to kapuska, if I remember correctly. So then I would like eating it.
Cabbage, and consequently dishes like kapuska made with it, is not loved many people for 2 more reasons. One, cabbage may cause bloating in many people and of course it is not nice or comfortable. Second, some people may find its smell off-putting. I can’t say anything about the smell, but one thing that helps with bloating is having a cup of fennel, camomile or peppermint tea afterwards. So if you are reluctant to eat this dish, you may try it with one of those tea options. But of course, there are cases where even those may not help, so beware!
I was always suspicious of the name of the dish, “kapuska” because it wasn’t Turkish. So when I decided to work on this recipe for a blog post, I made a mini research and I found out that the name comes from Russian word for cabbage, which is, if I understood correctly, is actually “kapusta”. This didn’t surprise me, as I know cabbage is used a lot in Russian or Russian-influenced cuisines (this is just a personal observation though, I am no expert on that).
Enjoy your lovely smelly cabbage dish!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 can (340 gr. net) tomato puree
1 small cabbage, about 1150 gr. (makes about 1 kg after trimming), thinly sliced ribbons
2 tbsp rice, washed and drained
1 tsp salt (and more to taste, if needed)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (and more to taste, if needed)
2 tsp red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper
7.5 dl (or 3 cups) vegetable broth (or plain water)
1. In a large pot, put olive oil on medium high heat and warm for about 20 seconds, then add onion and sauté for about 3-4 minutes, until it gets translucent.
2. Add tomato puree and stir and cook for about a minute.
3. Add cabbage, stir and close the lid. Let the cabbage cook for 5 minutes with closed lid so that it releases some of its water.
4. Add rice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes / Aleppo pepper and mix well.
5. Add vegetable broth / water, stir and put the lid again, leaving it ajar. Lower the heat to medium and let the dish cook until cabbage is very soft and rice is cooked well, for about 20-25 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking. Adjust the salt and pepper by adding more if you need to and then turn off the heat. Enjoy your dish and if you are afraid of bloating, have a cup of fennel, camomile or peppermint tea afterwards.