Cabbage with Crunchy Spices

December 11, 2018

I can’t say it is Roald Dahl’s fault, but I think we could agree that he played a hand in it. Cabbage soup for lunch. Cabbage soup for supper. Watery cabbage soup that left you with a horrible empty feeling in your stomach.

Remember that from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I adore Roald Dahl and his books, but I hate that cabbage is such a strong contender for the most unloved vegetable award. Cabbage needs the same publicity campaign that took brussels sprouts from a punishment you threatened your children with to star of the farm to table movement.

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So let’s start the campaign. Here’s my case for cabbage.

First, the health benefits. Cabbage is known to be a preventer of type two diabetes, has antioxidants known to decreases risks of cardiovascular disease, supports the digestive track, provides high fiber density at a low calorie count and some of the red cabbages are high in anti-inflamatory anthocyanins.

If you need to take a short break here to add cabbage to your grocery list, please do so. Go ahead.

Second, cabbage provides a mild sweet, crunchy, fresh and quick to cook canvas. This recipe is for an easy, traditional South Indian vegetable sauté, or kura. We eat it on a weeknight with rice and rasam or sambar followed by rice mixed with yogurt and a side of spicy pickle.

With the combination of just a few ingredients, you can really make any South Indian vegetable sauté. You can substitute cabbage for another leafy green vegetable like brussels sprouts, kale or spinach or a root vegetable like potatoes. For a heartier dish, combine a leafy green with a root vegetable and adding in diced garlic or ginger and shredded, unsweetened coconut.

Cabbage with Crunchy Spices


  • 1 small head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon yellow split peas
  • 1 teaspoon urad daal
  • 2-3 dried red chilis
  • 3-4 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (cayenne pepper)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons Lemon juice


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a deep, wide heavy pot. Add the mustard seeds and cook 1-2 minutes on medium heat until they pop and sputter. Keep a lid nearby as the seeds and oil will splatter.
  2. Add the yellow split peas, urad daal, red chilis and curry leaves if using. Cook for 1-2 minutes until yellow split peas and urad daal have browned. Be careful not to burn.
  3. Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  4. Add the shredded cabbage, additional oil, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Mix well.
  5. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes on medium low heat stirring occasionally until the cabbage has become soft.
  6. Add lemon juice and serve hot.

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