Cabbage is so good for you and so inexpensive that I always mean to eat more of it. One thing that holds me back is that it’s hard to eat a whole head – there’s a lot of cabbage in a cabbage! Sure, you can slip a little into a stir fry and a little more into soup, but how do you use a whole lot at once?
Cabbage Thoran is how. This is a spicy, coconut-spiked stir fry from the Indian state of Kerala. It’s the perfect dish to go with a saucy curry or dal and rice. Leftovers are great, too. I made sure to cook plenty of rice, and then I put my leftover cabbage thoran in this fried rice recipe for a couple of breakfasts.
Curry leaves are authentic to have in this, and I do have a curry leaf tree, but it’s only 4 inches tall right now, so I made do without. (Soon, though, I’ll have my own source!) If you have access to curry leaves, you could add 12-20 leaves or so with the mustard seeds. The amount of coconut in cabbage thoran seems to vary widely, so I suggest adjusting this recipe for your own taste by adding 1/4 cup at a time until you like it.
The easiest way to shred the cabbage is with the slicing disk of a food processor.
1 tablespoon coconut oil or any neutral tasting oil
2 shallots, minced, about 3/4 cup
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons brown or black mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups shredded cabbage, from about 1/2 of a small head
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, or to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet to medium. Add the shallot and pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the mustard seeds. Cook until one or two of the mustard seeds pops. Turn the heat back down to medium and stir in the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Add the cabbage and stir into the seasonings.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the volume of cabbage has been reduced by about half and the cabbage is tender, but still a little bit crisp. Stir in coconut, 1/4 cup at a time, and heat through. Taste and add more salt if you like.