Cabbage Curry, an Easy Vegetarian Dish with a Vegan Option


Cabbage Curry, an Easy Vegetarian Dish with a Vegan Option


I’ve been somewhat slow at getting one of my favorite types of food, Indian and Pakistani curries, onto the blog, even though I cook them frequently, and make a lot of them at the restaurant. The principal reason is that most curries have many steps and use a wide variety of spices that are not frequently in American household kitchens. But I now plan to start posting more recipes for some of my favorites. 


I get my spices in small bulk quantities at our Dekalb Farmers Market, but they’re available inexpensively also at Indian groceries. And actually many, though not all, of them are available cheaply at Mexican stores.


At any rate, here’s a fairly simple cabbage curry, a nice side dish for an Indian dinner. This curry uses fewer spices than the more complex meat curries and many of the vegetable curries. I’m showing the method for a western or north-western Indian way of making this, which contains dairy products. But I also mention an easy Vegan version, similar to that made in South Indian Tamil cooking, where coconut milk, rather than cow’s milk, is standard.


The recipe makes enough for a side dish for 6 to 8 persons.


1 small or half a large head cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 small onion

3/4 inch fresh ginger

1 large clove garlic

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

3/8 teaspoon ground coriander

4 tablespoons canola, sunflower or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

3/4 cup whole-milk yogurt (or canned unsweetened coconut milk plus 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice as a Vegan substitute)

1/2 cup water, plus more as needed

Coarsely chopped cilantro for garnish


Prepare vegetables and spices before starting to cook. Quarter and core cabbage. Cut quarters in half lengthwise, then slice across into 1/4-inch shreds. Dice onion. Peel the ginger by scraping the peel off with the edge of a teaspoon. Mince garlic and ginger together with chef’s knife on the cutting board. Have oil and whole cumin ready. Combine ground spices in a small bowl. Have the yogurt (or the coconut milk) ready.


Heat heavy pot to medium hot. Add oil, and when it’s hot add the cumin seeds and let them splutter 10 seconds, stirring. Add the onion, and stir it together well with the cumin seeds. Stir and fry the onion till well softened and beginning to turn pale golden in areas. Stir in the ginger-garlic mixture and stir and fry for a minute. Lower the heat and add the dry spice mixture. Stir and it fry with the onions for one minute.


Add the yogurt (or the coconut milk plus lime or lemon juice) and stir and let the mixture come to a boil. Add the water and bring back to a boil. Add the salt and the cabbage, and stir, scraping the bottom as this mixture heats and begins to bubble gently.


Cover the pot and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if necessary so the sauce does not dry out. Total cooking time for the cabbage will be 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Taste for salt, as well as for tenderness, and add a little salt if necessary.


The curry can be served now, or preferably cooled and stored for a while to let the flavors mingle. Reheat to serve.


Serve sprinkled with coarsely chopped cilantro.




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