shades of beige


I wasn’t going to post on this dinner, as it’s really unpreposessing-looking (brown meat, brownish-yellow cabbage, brown pickle – all we needed was a reddish-brown dal to make the plate truly unappetizing). And I’ve already talked about the pork stewed with ginger, chiles and rai masala (a regular dish in our meal rotation). But I don’t believe I’ve told you about this cabbage dish, which is easy to make and amazingly good, especially with a side of yogurt and a good Indian pickle. Despite its looks, it’s worth trying – sweet and a little spicy, with a lingering fennel note and just a hint of bitterness from the fenugreek. I generally make it a little differently each time, depending on my mood and what we’re serving it with. This is the version I made last night.

shades of beige

Buttery Cabbage with Fennel and Green Chile

Loosely adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Spice Kitchen

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 small green cabbage, cored and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 5 fenugreek seeds
  • a clove or two of garlic, chopped
  • 1 green chile (we use serranos), chopped
  • 1 nugget fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • pinch garam masala
  • juice of half a lemon

Heat the oil in a large skillet (one that has a well-fitting lid) and add the cumin, mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds. When they have begun to toast, add the onion and saute until it softens. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and chile and cook for a minute or two, then dump in all the shredded cabbage (this is why you needed a large skillet). Saute until the cabbage wilts and combines with the onion and spices, then add some salt and the butter. Stir it all up as the butter melts, then put in a splash of water, cover the pan and lower the heat. Let it simmer 15-30 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it hasn’t boiled dry.  Then take off the lid and slowly saute again, stirring frequently, so that the liquid boils off and the onion and cabbage caramelize a bit – another 15-30 minutes. Sprinkle in the garam masala and lemon juice, taste for salt, and serve.

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