Kabak Dolma - Turkish Stuffed Zucchini

Kabak dolmas on a white plate.

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4 from 1 review

Kabak dolmasi features zucchini stuffed with a flavorful mixture of rice, ground beef, and a vibrant array of herbs and spices. Cooked in a rich tomato paste sauce, these stuffed zucchinis are a summer favorite in Turkish homes and a great way to enjoy this season's harvest. This traditional dish is versatile, customizable to different dietary preferences, and perfect to serve as a main dish or as part of a meze platter.



For the dolma (stuffed zucchini):

  • 6 zucchini
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes, cut into quarters (to be placed on the filling inside the zucchini)

For the filling:

  • ½ cup rice
  • 200 g / 7 ounces ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped (optional)
  • A few sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed or grated 
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 2 cups warm water 


  1. Cut off the stems of zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half crosswise and hollow out the insides with a coring tool (you can use an apple corer). Aim to scoop out as much flesh as possible, but try not to cut the outer skin of zucchini. 
  2. Mix the stuffing ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
  3. Fill the cored zucchini with this mixture. Fill them with your hands but loosely, not pressing down too hard. There must be enough space for the rice to rise. Leave about 1/2 inch ( about 1 cm) of space at the top.
  4. Place a wedge of tomato on top of each stuffed zucchini. This is to seal the filling in the zucchini. It will prevent the filling from coming outside. Arrange the stuffed zucchini in a pot.
  5. In a saucepan, combine olive oil, tomato paste, crushed garlic, and mint. Heat it for a minute, stirring occasionally. Add in warm water, mix well and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat.
  6. Pour all of the sauce in the pan where you put the stuffed zucchini. They will cook in this sauce. Cook it covered over medium heat until it starts to boil.
  7. Once it boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer covered for about 45 minutes or until the zucchini and rice are soft.


  1. Preparing the Zucchini: Be gentle when coring the zucchini to avoid damaging the skin. If the skin is punctured, your delicious filling might escape while cooking. Tools like an apple corer or small spoon are helpful for this task.
  2. Utilizing the Scooped Zucchini Flesh: Don't toss out the zucchini flesh you've scooped out. This can be repurposed in various dishes, such as Turkish zucchini fritters, also known as mucver, or added to soups and stews for an extra dose of flavor and nutrition.
  3. Stuffing the Zucchini: Avoid the temptation to overfill the zucchini. As the rice cooks, it will expand, so ensure to leave room for it. Overstuffed zucchini might lead to a messy spill-out.
  4. Making Use of Extra Filling: Leftover filling? No problem. You can simmer it in a small, lidded pan with a touch of water, just like preparing a Turkish rice pilav. Enjoy it as a side dish now, or save it for later use.