Saturday, September 6, 2008

Recipe: South Indian-style Red Cabbage

One of my favorite ways to prepare either cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage or brussels sprouts) or tough greens (like collards) is to stir-fry them with mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, ginger, red chillies, salt, and lemon juice. Even people who swear they don't like brussels sprouts have told me they've enjoyed them prepared this way!

Last night we had a mix of red cabbage and collards prepared this way as an accompaniment to vegetable tikki sandwiches layered with avocado, peppadews, chutney, alfalfa and daikon sprouts, and spicy pickled okra on multigrain nut bread.

South Indian-style Red Cabbage (serves 4 as a side dish)

4 Cups shredded red cabbage*
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp mustard seeds
Curry leaves from 1 stalk (about 6-10)
1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
4-6 whole dried red chillies
salt to taste
1 Tbsp turmeric
Juice of 1 lemon

Great optional stir-ins: 1/4 Cup toasted shredded coconut, 1/4 Cup roasted Spanish peanuts

Heat oil in wok on medium-high heat until it swirls around the wok very thinly and easily (should take less than 45 seconds). Add mustard seeds; they will pop, so if you have a mesh lid/grate, cover the wok with that, or partially cover it with a lid. Add the curry leaves, ginger, and dried red chillies when the popping subsides. Stir fry until ginger is fragrant and curry leaves are coated with oil, but don't allow the ginger to brown.

Add the cabbage and turmeric in batches, stir-frying and adding appropriate amounts of salt with each batch, until all the cabbage is added and all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Assuming the cabbage is exuding a lot of its own water, turn down the heat to medium-low and cover, letting the cabbage steam-cook, uncovering every few minutes to stir. (If the cabbage is dry, you might need to add a little water before covering for the cabbage to steam.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is al dente or soft, as you prefer (about 10 minutes).

Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice (optional: also stir in toasted coconut and/or peanuts).

*You could substitute quartered and partly cooked (by steaming in the microwave, for instance) brussels sprouts, or shredded green cabbage, collards, mustard greens, or kale, for example.

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