© Helle Valebrokk

Fårikål – The national dish of Norway


This simple recipe consists of only 4 ingredients: Lamb, pepper, water and cabbage.

This is Norway’s unofficial national dish, the word fårikål [foːrɪkɔl] literally meaning "mutton in cabbage". Fårikål was voted national dish by the listeners of the popular radio show Nitimen in 1972 and has pretty much remained so ever since. It’s most probably Danish of origin, but no one knows for certain.

The word «får» (lamb) itself has never been used in any Norwegian dialect and originates from the Danish language. Both the famous Norwegian linguist Ivar Aasen and the author Arne Garborg pointed this out, and the latter chose the name «lam-i-kål». A similarly made dish with goose instead of lamb is an old Danish dish mentioned in a cookbook published in Norway in 1835, Fulstændig norsk kokebok by Karen Dorothea Bang. Here it is mentioned that you can substitute the goose with mutton.

Access to the white cabbage used in fårikål was probably not very common until the early 20th century, and the usage of fresh meat was also quite limited. Before this time fårikål was not common, and it’s assumed that the Danish-inspired upper class in the cities were the first to serve it in Norway. This has changed. These days almost every Norwegian eats fårikål during September/October, when the lambs are slaughtered, and different cuts are available fresh in the stores. The dish is so popular it even has its own day named for it.

© Helle Valebrokk

Fårikål Feast Day is celebrated on the last Thursday of September each year. The smell covering most of Norway on this particular day is not for everyone, reeking of boiled cabbage. Most Norwegians love to have these aromas teasing their noses, but it needs to be said, it’s an acquired smell.

Fårikål is the easiest dish you will ever make, consisting of four basic ingredients: Lamb on the bone, black pepper, water and cabbage. That’s it!


© Helle Valebrokk

Where to eat Fårikål in Oslo

Fårikål is only served in season and only for a couple of days. Please check with the restaurants for more information.

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Erik Valebrokk
Helle Valebrokk
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