1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
large pinch allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
large pinch ground nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1 large head of cabbage
500 g (1 lb) minced (ground) lamb
1 cup (220 g/7 oz) short-grain white rice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup (50 g/ 1 ¾ oz) toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped raisins
1 cup (250 ml/8 fl oz) olive oil, extra
1/3 cup (80 ml/2 ¾ fl oz) lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Heat the oil in the saucepan, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until golden
Add the allspice, cumin and nutmeg and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from the pan.
Bring a very large saucepan of water to the boil and add the bay leaves. Remove the tough outer leaves and about 5 cm (2 inch) of the core from the cabbage with a sharp knife, then place the cabbage into the boiling water. Cook for 5 minutes, then carefully loosen a whole leaf with tongs and remove. Continue to cook and remove the leaves until you reach the core. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and set aside to cool.
Take 12 equal-size leaves and cut a small “v” from the core and of each leaf to remove the thickest part, then trim the firm central veins so that the leaf is as flat as possible. Place three quarters of the remaining leaves into a very large saucepan to prevent the rolls catching on the base.
Combine the mince, onion mixture, rice, garlic, pine nuts, mint, parsley and raisins in a bowl, and season well. With the core end of the leaf closest to you, shape 2 tbsp of the mince mixture into the oval and place in the center of the leaf. Roll up, tucking in the sides to enclose the filling. Repeat with the other 11 leaves and filling. Place the rolls tightly in a single layer in the saucepan, seam-side-down.
Combine 2 ½ cups (625 ml/20 fl oz) of the cooking liquid with the extra olive oil, lemon juice and 1 tsp salt, and pour over the rolls (the liquid should just cover the rolls). Top with the remaining leaves. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the filling is cooked.