Almost Turkish Recipes

Cabbage Stew with Beef (Etli Kapuska)

Kapuska is a hearty traditional Turkish stew whose name is derived from, I believe, "cabbage" in Russian. Although the name is imported, the dish is truly Turkish, or Turkish version of a multi-faced cabbage stew common in Russia and Eastern Europe. Kapuska is widely known and eagerly consumed in Thrace, as a result of Eastern European impact i.e. Albanian and Bulgarian immigrants, and also in the Black Sea Region of Turkey thanks to our next door neighbor, Russia.

Kapuska is cooked in different ways in Turkey: with garbanzo beans, bulgur, rice, ground meat, lamb, beef, or vegetarian. This recipe is based on how my mom and aunt, the Thracian part of the family, make kapuska.

1/2 pound stew beef or lamb
1 medium cabbage, coarsely chopped
3 medium onions or 2 big ones, diced
3 tbsp butter or you can also use olive oil
3-4 tomatoes, diced or 1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp pepper paste (use tomato paste if you cannot find red pepper paste)
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp paprika
1 1/2 cups of water
salt and pepper
red hot chilies or any hot chilies you want

-Heat butter in a pot on medium heat and add stew beef. First meat will get juicy and soak the juice in.
-Once it loses its moisture, stir in onion and cook until soft, but not browned (approximately 7-10 minutes)
-Add pepper paste, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Stir for a couple of minutes.
-Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
-Add 1 cup of water and simmer for 50 minutes to an hour until the meat is tender.
-Meanwhile chop the cabbage coarsely, wash, and rinse.
-When meat is cooked, stir in cabbage. Add 1/2 cup of hot water or more if necessary. It shouldn't be a watery dish but not too dry either. Simmer for half an hour.

Serve with crusty bread to soak the delicious juice.

kapuska is tastier if it's spicy.


  1. You know it was only as an adult that I discovered how great cooked cabbage is... my mom always only ever served it raw - shredded in coleslaw or in a salad.

    The first time I had cabbage in a stew, I was hooked :) Thanks for sharing this recipe, will definitely give it a try.

  2. Cynthia, I don't think you would like cabbage stew as a kid. Although I loved stuffed cabbage leaves (still my favorite food today), I never even tasted cabbage stew.

  3. Burcu hanim,

    I tried this one out and my neighbors (who were the beneficiaries of that largesse) begged for more. It was simply wonderful.

    Cok sagol, abla.


  4. Tesekkur ederim, Domonic. I'm glad you and your neighbors liked it :)

  5. Anonymous10:56 AM

    My younger son is 11 and he loves cooked cabbage.We usually have cabbage stir fried. We made this stew for lunch today and he loved it, we all did. Thank you for another way to cook cabbage.

  6. This was fantastic. Both my husband and I enjoyed the spiciness of this dish. Somehow mine actually looked like yours does in the. The pictures you have really make me want to get cooking. Thank you for making a website for us who cannot read Turkish!

  7. What a really nice recipe this is. I would love to try this one. Really lovely and the color is so nice.

  8. Just found your Blog off of a link from Ilke's Kitchen. Am going to have to try this recipe out - it looks vibrant and tasty!

    And,.... I've been looking to expand upon the cuisines that I cook.

  9. Anonymous11:44 AM

    Delicious.....a favorite. Easy! Healthy! Thank you! We love your website.

  10. I am making this now without the chilies...but the cooking times may be off on your recipe...I'll let you all know how it turns out.

  11. cmhager, it's not kapuska if it's not spicy :)

  12. Made this for Valentine's dinner and the hubby loved it! Used half a head of cabbage and we'll have leftovers for a couple days. How well does it freeze you think?

  13. Anonymous3:25 AM

    Can this be made in a slow cooker?

    1. I'm making this right now in a slow cooker (without the cabbage) on low - will let you know the outcome!

    2. Turned out fine in the slow cooker, After the cooking tomatoes step i poured everything into the slow cooker on low from 8am to 5pm. Added cabbage until 6pm. Meat was tender and delicious, will do this recipe on a weekly basis. Only i added 850g of diced chuck steak so was quite meaty and serves 4 people. Thanks Burcu!

  14. I just made this, but with tomato paste instead of diced tomatoes (it's all I had in the cupboard). It turned out great, but I needed to add more water. Yum! So easy and delicious!

  15. Anonymous5:27 AM

    I cant wait to try this dish as my partner will only eat chips. But when i make it i will only use 1 chilli cos shes not keen on food too spicy.

    1. We just had this last night. We absolutely love kapuska, especially with hoppy beers :) You can make it not spicy and add pepper flakes to your plate.

  16. Im cooking this right now, saw it on a cooking programme. Now my 9 year old daughters favorite dish. Must say, i love it too...

  17. We are eating this tonight, my 9 year old daughters favorite meal, she loves anything non British, hahaha...except fish and chips. I adore Kapuska too...mighty filling meal at a low cost x

  18. Oh my god. So I accidentally made this lol. Only difference is that I used tomato sauce instead of water to thin. Then it was too much so I reduced it and put it over rice. It was delicious without though. My new favorite dish by FAR!
    I wanted to know if there was an actual dish like it, and your picture is the closest! Next time I'll have to use your recipe and make the real stuff.