Kapuska is a comforting Turkish Stew made with cabbage, onions, and minced beef gently simmered in a tomato sauce. This popular Turkish Casserole has many versions. You can make it with ground beef, lamb, and chicken, or you can leave the meat out for a vegan or vegetarian option.
Whichever version of Kapuska you make, this rustic Turkish Cabbage Stew is perfect to keep you all cosy and warm in the colder months.
This hearty cabbage stew dish is also common in the Balkans, Eastern European countries, Russia as well as Turkey. The name "Kapuska" is Russian for "cabbage" and it is also the name of their similar cabbage dish. Although the name is imported from Russia, the dish is a Turkish version of a cabbage stew.
Why This Recipe Works?
- It is an easy recipe made in the Dutch oven for slow cooking and is great for a busy weeknight meal.
- It is a healthy, comforting and wholesome meal yet extremely delicious.
- You can leave the meat out and make it vegetarian/vegan.
- The garlic yoghurt sauce takes this stew with cabbage to the next level!
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Cabbage - White cabbage or cannonball cabbage works better for this stew recipe. Make sure to remove the core before chopping it as it’s too tough to eat.
- Minced meat - You can use any minced meat for this dish although my favourite is the lamb! Leave the meat out to make this dish vegetarian/vegan.
- Onions - You can use white, brown or yellow onion.
- Garlic - Fresh garlic is a great flavouring that adds sweetness and nuttiness to stews. Peel and finely chop them before adding them to the dish. You can also grate garlic using a Microplane.
- Tomato paste - It is the staple of Turkish cooking. It adds an umami flavour to the dishes as well as a bright red colour. You can find it in Turkish or Middle Eastern shops. You can also buy it from .
- Red pepper paste - Turkish red pepper paste is a rich, delicious paste made with juicy, spicy red peppers and I use it quite often in my Turkish recipes. You can buy it from Turkish or Middle Eastern shops or online from .
- Stock - You can use Basic Homemade Vegetable Stock or water.
- Bulgur - It is widely used in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisines. Use medium-coarse bulgur for the best results. Substitute it with rice to make this stew gluten-free.
- Spices and seasoning - Adjust them to your taste.
This is a very simple, straightforward recipe and to achieve the best results, you need to follow a few simple steps:
Prepare the Cabbage
Cut the cabbage in half, from the top of the cabbage through the middle of the stem. Place the flat cut-side of the cabbage down and cut the half cabbage into half again. Flip over the quarters and cut diagonally, removing the core.
Cook the Kapuska
Place a Dutch oven or a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add the mince, and cook it until nicely browned, breaking it down with a wooden spoon. If there is enough fat from the mince, add the onions along with the garlic and sauté until soft. If you use lean mince, add olive oil to the pan for sautéing the onions.
Add the tomato paste, red pepper paste, chilli flakes, freshly ground black pepper, dried mint, and salt. Stir and cook for a minute. Add the cabbage, bulgur, and vegetable stock or water.
Cover the Dutch oven and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 ½ hour or until the cabbage is tender. Check the seasoning and add some salt and pepper if needed.
Prepare the Yoghurt Sauce and Serve
Prepare the sauce in a bowl, and mix the yoghurt, mayonnaise, salt, and chives (or garlic) until nicely combined. Serve and garnish the kapuska with yoghurt sauce and parsley while still hot.
For more hearty&warming winter recipes why not try:
The way I enjoy this cabbage and mince stew is with a piece of freshly made bread such as Tawa Naan with Garlic, Homemade Toast Bread, Bazlama (Turkish Bread) or Homemade Pita Bread and Cacik (Turkish Yoghurt with Cucumbers).
Cabbage is a healthy vegetable full of vitamin C and K, and a very good source of fibre, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Its fibre and water content help to prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive process. Combined with Bulgur wheat which is also packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre makes this Turkish Casserole is super healthy as well as delicious.
Let the leftovers cool down completely before transferring them to airtight containers. Keep them refrigerated for up to 5 days. You can freeze them for up to 3 months if you wish to keep them longer.
You can reheat the leftover stew in a pan with a little added water or stock on very low heat. Let the kapuska gently simmer until it's piping hot. Alternatively, you can heat it in a microwave on medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Top Tip From the Chef
- When cooking the Kapuska, make sure the heat is on low and it is gently simmering. Check the level of liquid frequently to avoid it burning.
- I like Kapuska with a minimum of liquid but you can add extra stock or water to make yours a bit more soup-like consistency.
I hope you enjoy the process of making this hearty Turkish Stew as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet Olsun!
Did you make this recipe?
Kapuska | Turkish Cabbage Stew
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 250 g minced beef or lamb
- 1 medium onion (finely diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red pepper paste
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes (adjust to your taste)
- 100 g bulgur
- 750 g cabbage (white cabbage or cannonball cabbage)
- 800 ml vegetable stock or water (adjust it to how tick you want the sauce)
For the Yoghurt Sauce
- 1 cup natural yogurt
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives (or 1 garlic - pasted)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Start with preparing the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half, from the top of it through the middle of the stem. Place the flat cut-side of the cabbage down and cut the half cabbage into half again. Flip over the quarters and cut diagonally, removing the core.
- Place a Dutch oven or a heavy-based pan over medium heat.
- Add the mince, cook it until nicely browned, breaking it down with a wooden spoon.
- If there is enough fat from the mince, add the onions along with the garlic and sauté until soft. If you use lean mince, add olive oil to the pan for sautéing the onions.
- Add the tomato paste, red pepper paste, chili flakes, freshly ground black pepper, dried mint, and salt. Stir and cook for a minute.
- Add the cabbage, bulgur, and vegetable stock or water.
- Cover the Dutch oven and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 ½ hour or until the cabbage is tender.
- Check the seasoning and add some salt and pepper if needed.
- Prepare the sauce in a bowl, mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, salt, and chives (or garlic) until nicely combined.
- Garnish with yogurt sauce and parsley and serve while still hot.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
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