Keralan cabbage & Carrot Thoran

I don’t know how it happened but I am overrun with cabbage this week. I had accumulated not one, but three cabbages in the fridge, so I decided this week to give you not one, but three cabbage recipes.

The first Keralan Cabbage and Carrot Thoran, is a recipe that I adapted for Riverford Companion – Autumn and Winter Veg and cooked once again at Simon’s SuperClub last week in St Mary’s Putney. I served it up with my Courgette, Aubergine and Red Pepper Curry and Coconut Cauliflower Rice but you can eat it just on its own, with rice or with some poppadoms.

It is a dry, vegetable and coconut curry from Kerala and you can add all sorts of vegetables. As always I felt the need to change the recipe very slightly, even though it was my own! I cut out the dried red chillis as I felt the birds eye green ones made it hot enough, but if you like it spicy, by all means add some more. If you can’t be bothered with fresh coconut, look for flaked, dry or even toasted coconut (not desiccated) in the baking section of large supermarkets or health food shops.

Cabbage Thoran

Keralan cabbage Thoran
3 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 dried curry leaves
2 tsp cumin seeds
30g fresh root ginger, finely grated into a paste
30g fresh garlic, finely grated into a paste
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
250g/9oz hispi, savoy or pointed spring cabbage (or spring greens), shredded into 5mm pieces
2 carrots, Julienned
2 fresh green birds-eye chillies, sliced into very thin rounds, with seeds
100g fresh shaved coconut, or dried flaked coconut
Fresh Coriander, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or Wok set over a medium heat, and, when hot, add the mustard seeds followed by the curry leaves, cumin seeds and turmeric. Stir for about 30 seconds, and then add the ginger and garlic paste, salt and black pepper and fry for 30 seconds.
Stir in the cabbage and carrots and cook, covered, over a medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, adding a splash of water if they start to stick to the pan. Add the coriander and grated coconut and serve.

Savoy Cabbage with Parmesan, Balsamic and Prosciutto

Finally for this week, the simplest recipe of all. I never thought of eating Savoy cabbage raw but the combination of flavours in this recipe are really sublime. This recipe is one that we used to serve at The River Café and famously comes from Modena, the home of Balsamic vinegar and also fabulous Parmesan from Emilia-Romagn.

It is one of those recipes which somehow tastes so much greater than its sum of parts. Having said that the ingredients must be super good. Obviously, first of all a lovely, fresh savoy cabbage and then tip top quality Parmesan Reggiano, really good, aged balsamic and a really tasty, peppery, Italian olive oil. Finally of course the prosciutto should be top quality too. I recommend some from San Daniele, just a little further north-east from Modena which produces some of the best prosciutto in the world.

Savoy cabbage in Bowl

Savoy Cabbage with Parmesan, Balsamic and Prosciutto
Also good with other cabbages or even fennel.
Serves 4
½ a savoy cabbage, sliced very finely
2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp good Italian Extra Virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A chunk of parmesan Reggiano slivers
Thinly sliced prosciutto or other ham, to serve

Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar together and season well. Add the shredded and mix well. Shave or crumble in the parmesan. Serve with the prosciutto.

Savoy cabbage

Indian Spiced Cabbage

Next up this week – the king of cabbages – The Savoy. A sure sign that winter is coming but before you get depressed remember that cabbage has everything you need to get you through a long, hard winter – vitamins A, C, K and B6, folate, potassium, manganese, thiamin, calcium, iron and magnesium.

I love mine spiced up with a few Indian flavours and lots of chilli. This is one of my favourite recipes and you can make it with any sort of cabbage or greens. It is lovely served alongside a curry or just on its own with poppadums and chutney. I am always amused by the mention of asafoetida powder. This is a rarely heard of herb in England but a popular addition to many Indian curries and not necessarily for its taste rather than for its medicinal properties. Asafoetida is a powerful anti-flatulent, reducing the growth of indigenous microflora in the gut. Amazingly it usually turns up mostly in Indian bean, chickpea and lentil recipes and those containing brassicas. Where more fitting to find such an ingredient as in this spicy cabbage.

I love cooking with coconut oil and it is now readily available and Riverford also stock it. I use it for many Indian dishes but please do not believe the hype. It maybe super tasty but It is not super good for you, so like with all fats, use sparingly.

Spicy Cabbage

Indian Spiced Cabbage
½ Savoy cabbage, shredded
1 -2 green chili, depending on spiciness
1⁄2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seed
1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1⁄2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon grated garlic
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 small bunch of coriander, chopped
1 dash asafoetida powder
Sea Salt

Heat the coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the cumin seeds, turmeric, mustard seeds and the asafoetida powder. Add ginger, garlic, chillies and onions. Cook till the onions are a little soft. Add the cabbage. Add salt to taste and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Adjust the cooking time depending on how you like your cabbage. I like mine quite crunchy. Finally add the chopped coriander.