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 (approximately 5 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.