Country we are exploring:  Iran

Continent:  Asia

Capital:  Tehran

Population:  77.5 million

Official language(s):  Farsi

Suggestion for fun image:  Chef Koochooloo riding on a magic carpet on top of Isfahan Mosques

Fun fact:  On the last Tuesday of each year, children in Iran celebrate the New Year by participating in the Festival of Fire (Chahar-Shanbeh Soori) and jumping over fire!

Bonfires are made in the streets and yards, representing good thoughts, good words, and good deeds. Iranians believe that by jumping over fire, they will have enlightenment, good health and happiness throughout the coming year.

English recipe name:  Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Sugar-free & beef)

Name of dish in native country:  Dolmen Barg-e Kalam

Type of dish:  Side Dish

Recommended season or holiday:  New Year’s

Serving Size:  6-8 people

Ingredient Spotlight:  Cabbage

Cabbage is a powerful brain food full of Vitamin K which contributes to healthy glowing skin, and an immune system powerful enough to fight off just about anything!



  • 1 large cabbage, washed, center core removed
  • 2/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice, rinse well
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas, rinse well
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped fresh herbs (a combination of flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, chives, dill, basil, tarragon, mint) washed, hard stems removed
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons liquid saffron
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice of a large lemon/lime or a tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar *optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil/olive oil
  • Water

Big Chef Duties:

  1. In a large pot, bring 6-8 cups of water to a boil over high heat, add a tablespoon of salt, gently add the head of cabbage into the boiling water, cook for 10 minutes. Drain. Peel each cabbage leaf, cut out the hard rib in each leaf. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, add the chopped onion, saute until light golden brown, add the minced garlic and the turmeric powder. Stir and saute for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef, salt and pepper to taste and brown until well done. Set aside.
  4. In a medium size pot combine the rice and the yellow split peas, add enough water to cover the rice by an inch over the rice line. Add a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of oil, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat , cover with the top a little ajar to let the steam out, cook until the water is fully absorbed. Set aside.
  5. Let chef koochooloo do the mix.
  6. In a large pan, sauté the sliced onion in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, sauté for a couple of minutes until it’s no longer raw, add salt and pepper to taste. Add three cups of water and bring to a gentle simmer.
  7. Arrange the stuffed cabbage with the seam down, next to one another in the pot. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for an hour. In the last 10 minutes of cooking sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar and just a sprinkle of sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Little Chef Duties:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat mixture, rice and peas, chopped herbs, cumin and saffron. Mix well.
  2. In the meantime, place a scoop of the mixture into the center of each cabbage leaf, fold in the bottom, sides and the top of the leaf to complete the wrap.

Learn while you wait:  Experiment

  • A clear drinking glass
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  1. Fill the glass about 3/4 full of water .
  2. Add about 5 drops of food coloring – I like red for the lava look.
  3. Slowly pour the vegetable oil into the glass. See how the oil floats on top – cool huh? It gets better.
  4. Now the fun part: Sprinkle the salt on top of the oil.
  5. Watch blobs of lava move up and down in your glass!

First of all, the oil floats on top of the water because it is lighter than the water. Since the salt is heavier than oil, it sinks down into the water and takes some oil with it, but then the salt dissolves and back up goes the oil!

Presentation:  Serve warm– with some sauce.

Teach the kids how to say Bon Appetit in the language of this recipe:  Nooshe jan

Did you know?  Girls in Iran don’t always enjoy the same opportunities as boys. For instance, girls are not allowed to play soccer.

Conversation Igniters:  How would you feel if you had to live in a country where girls and boys did not have the same opportunities?

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