• 3-4 tbsp oil (or lard)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 kg tender pork meat (side pork or pork loin fillets)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice, powdered
  • 1 jar sauerkraut leaves (pickled cabbage)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • salt

Another version of zele is to use pickled cabbage leaves instead of a fresh head of cabbage, which gives it also a very different taste, somewhat similar to German recipes. This one is mostly prepared during the cold winter months with the homemade sauerkraut that was pickled during the fall. And of course, to make it a more nutritious dish, there is the addition of meat, preferably pork.

Svinsko sas zele (literally pork with cabbage) has once again many varieties of recipes, transmitted through generations in the family. Some will prepare it with pork chops on the bone, others prefer using cubed tender meat from the side or loin fillets. Others would even use pork sausages instead which are strong in spices and easy to grill and add in the stew. Here is a tasty traditional family recipe of the cubed meat version of svinsko sas zele, a very simple one.


  1. Heat the oil, or the lard, over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the crushed garlic and fry for about 1 minute, without burning it.
  2. Chop the pork meat in cubes. Place it in the saucepan and lower the heat. Fry the meat with the garlic for 10 minutes, constantly stirring.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the meat, starting with the paprika and then the black pepper and allspice. Mix well to coat the cubes on all sides.
  4. Slice the pickled cabbage leaves in 1 inch thick strings. Add the cabbage to the meat in the saucepan and mix well.
  5. Pour in the warm vegetable broth. Cover the pan and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour and a half, until the meat is tender and the broth has thickened into the texture of a creamy stew. Add a pinch of salt, to taste.
  7. Then, if desired, you can remove the cover and place the cabbage in the oven to broil it until a golden brown crust forms on the top.

Serve cabbage stew warm, sprinkled with chopped fresh dill or parsley and freshly ground black pepper.

Accompany this stew with slices of warm crusty bread, as white bread is a Bulgarian favorite, a side of salad strong in onions or garlic, such as the Trakiiska salad or simply a fresh garlic clove to bite into like a typical Bulgarian.