If your travels ever take you to the South Indian state of Kerala, or what is popularly called “God’s Own Country,” it won’t be too long before you get acquainted with the delicious cabbage thoran.
Mildly spiced and brightly colored, cabbage thoran is one of those dishes that retains the delicate taste of the vegetable without drowning it in a host of spices and strong flavors.
A thoran is a type of dish that can be prepared with a variety of vegetables. The key ingredients—grated coconut, turmeric, black mustard seeds, shallots, green chillis and curry leaves—remain the same. And the vegetables can be changed according to seasonality or your preference.
Each thoran uses the same basic ingredients and tastes nothing like the other. From jackfruit and raw papaya to green gram and banana stem, thorans are high on exotic charm and absolutely delicious.
I’ve always found their appearance calming. Not merely because it is comfort food but because the ingredients seem to sit together peacefully, minimally fussed over and not altered too much.
During Kerala’s Onam festival, thoran is part of the Sadya, a feast of 24 to 28 dishes prepared specially for the occasion. But it’s also a simple, everyday dish that’s quick to throw together. Once you’ve got your hot infused oil, just add the shredded cabbage, cook until it’s just tender with a crisp bite, then stir in the grated coconut. Ready in just a few minutes, it’s best served with rice and daal or deep fried puris.
Cabbage Thoran (Kerala Style Stir-Fried Cabbage) Recipe
|ACTIVE TIME:||15 minutes|
|TOTAL TIME:||15 minutes|
|SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:||Large lidded saucepan|
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon urad daal
- 12 curry leaves
- 3 small green chilis slit lengthwise
- 2 small shallots sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups finely sliced green cabbage
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut
- Salt to taste
In a large lidded saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mustard seeds & urad daal and reduce heat to medium. Add curry leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant about 15 seconds. Add chillis and stir until fragrant, about fifteen seconds. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly softened, about 1 minute. In quick succession add the turmeric and cumin powders and stir vigorously to ensure the spices don’t burn, but the oil turns yellow, about ten seconds. Add the cabbage and salt and stir fry until just starting to wilt, about 1 minute. Put the lid on and let the cabbage cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove lid, if the cabbage has released water, turn the heat up and dry it off. Once dry, add the grated coconut and stir until it’s nicely mixed into the cabbage, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and serve hot with rice and daal, or puris (deep fried bread).