Cabbage does grow all year round, but acquires its best flavours only in winter. Since cabbage is quite sweet and less pungent in these months, it is easy to include it in several dishes. I often make a cabbage soup in this chilly weather too. It actually tastes much better than we would imagine. None of the bitter, sulphurous, menacing notes to it – just some crisp sweetness and heart warming honesty. Well about the soup, later. About cabbage first.
Cabbage has most of the vitamins and minerals we need daily. It has a high content of vitamin B and C. Besides, it is also high in fibre, potassium as well as low in sodium. It is also a fair source of Omega 6 fatty acids. These point to it being an excellent vegetable for people with high blood pressure, or are pregnant, or suffering from constipation too. Cabbage has small amounts of an ‘anti nutrient’ called as ‘protease inhibitor’. This prevents proteins from being digested well in the body. Hence it is better to cook cabbage lightly and then eat. Cooking deactivates the inhibitors and improves digestion of the vegetable and the entire meal.
Stir frying cabbage is the best way to cook it. The vegetable is stripped of its anti nutrients through minimal cooking, yet, the vitamins lost by heating are reduced too. Adding carrots to this recipe is optional. I’ve just added them for extra colour.
Select cabbage that has a compact oblong head vs a flat-ish round shape. Also, if a smaller cabbage weighs more than a larger one, then you can be sure the smaller dense cabbage will taste better.
Now I’ll walk you through one traditional Kerala recipe. It is as simple as it gets. Thinly shredded cabbage is tossed in a seasoning of oil, mustard and curry leaves. It is salted, stir fried and finished off with fragrant coconut and green chillies. A worthy accompaniment to tangy spicy sambar or kadhi/ moar kuzhambu and steamed rice. Can be tweaked a little to work as side dish to bhakri or phulkas too.
- Does not contain egg, gluten, soya, corn, nuts, lactose or dairy.
- Suitable for people with lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity, or nut allergy.
Preparation Time – 15 minutes, Cooking Time – 15 minutes, Serves – 4.
Cookware – Knife, Cutting Board, Wok/Fry pan of about 4 litre capacity, metal spatula, mixer grinder,
- 1 whole cabbage weighing 800-1000gms
- 1/4 kg Orange/Red Carrots (optional)
- 2 tsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp urad dal
- 10-12 curry leaves torn up
- 1/4 cup grated fresh coconut
- 2-4 green chillies depending on heat preference
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1-2 cloves garlic(optional)
- Remove outer bruised leaves of cabbage, if any, and shred/chop finely.
- Peel carrots and grate on the large hole of grater.
- Heat up oil in a wok. Season oil with mustard seeds and urad dal. Add curry leaves when the mustard crackles, and tip in the chopped vegetables.
- Stir fry over high heat for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water, cover and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Open lid and mix well a couple of times in between for uniform cooking.
- Meanwhile, whizz the grated coconut with chillies, cumin, and garlic (if using) in a mixer to a coarse mixture. Do not add any water while grinding this.
- After 3-4 minutes, when the cabbage feels cooked through, yet retaining some crispness, add salt and then add the coconut mixture and fold through the stir fry well. Keep stirring over high heat, especially if using garlic, to eliminate raw odour. Remove from flame. Cover and let flavours mingle for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve warm with steamed rice, and tomato dal, or sambar, or kadhi. I served it with a ‘Basella greens’ and tomato dal and steamed rice.