Recipe for Kerala style Cabbage Thoran – a dry curry prepared with a coconut-cumin-chilli paste
While I have always loved to cook regional Indian meals from different parts of the country, I must admit I have only discovered the joy of cooking dishes from Kerala in my kitchen. There are a few similarities with our style of Tamil vegetarian cooking from the Tirunelveli side of Tamil Nadu which has its own versions of Avial, Kootaan, Olan, Pulissery, Thoran and the likes. And so I never bothered to cook the Kerala versions of the same.
A couple of incidents made me totally change my mind about Kerala vegetarian cuisine and cook more of it in my own kitchen. One was a fresh meal cooked on a houseboat in Alleppey. I was completely blown away by the flavours which convinced me about how unique these dishes were. The other was the annual Onam Sadya at my friend’s place, who would take much effort to prepare the whole spread and lovingly serve it on a banana leaf for a group of friends.
Coming to the subject of this post, cabbage is not a very popular vegetable even among the veggie lovers. Something about the bleh texture of overcooked cabbage or the not so pleasant aroma of cooked cruciferous vegetables, making cabbage taste palatable is an art.
This cabbage thoran, thanks to the flavours of shallots and cumin seeds, and the fragrance from fresh coconut, is an effortless way to make cabbage taste good. A Thoran is a minimalistic dry vegetable preparation with coconut, shallots and cumin playing the lead roles in terms of flavour.
The recipe below will guide you on how to make a Kerala style cabbage thoran.
The same recipe can be prepared using cabbage, carrot or fresh green beans or a combination of all 3. Thoran can also be prepared using any seasonal greens like spinach, amaranth etc.
A few tips to preparing a really good Cabbage Thoran:
- Use fresh cabbage and shred the cabbage uniformly.
- Allow the cabbage to stir fry and then steam cook. Do NOT add water and allow the cabbage to boil.
- Use fresh coconut to prepare the paste.
- Don’t overcook the cabbage. Remove it into a bowl while it still retains some texture.
Kerala Cabbage Thoran
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 6 shallots (or 1 small onion), thinly sliced
- 6 cups cabbage finely shredded
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
to grind to a coarse paste
- 1/2 cup coconut fresh grated
- 1.5 tsps cumin seeds
- 3 - 4 chillis green
- 2 tsps coconut fresh
- In a large, heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil.
- Stir in the curry leaves, mustard seeds.
- Once seeds splutter, add sliced shallots / onions and saute until the onion turns golden brown.
- Add all of the shredded cabbage and turmeric. Toss well to combine with the tempering. Stir on high flame for 3-4 minutes until the cabbage wilts a bit and reduces in volume.
- Add the salt, stir well. Turn the flame to low, cover with a lid and allow the cabbage to soften / steam cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare a coarse paste comprising coconut, cumin and green chillies. Don't add any extra water to grind and keep this paste fairly dry.
- Add this paste to the almost cooked cabbage. Stir to combine for 1-2 minutes.
- Garnish with 2 tsp of fresh coconut.