Cabbage is not by any means a tropical vegetable. In fact, my mother called it “English vegetable.” While its origins may be western, these pale green leaves blend perfectly with tropical ingredients and make a good side dish for rice and curries. Here is a recipe for coleslaw, South Indian style.
1 small green cabbage
4 fresh green chilies (serrano or Thai) (less for a milder taste)
Salt to taste
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon each urad dal and chana dal
1 dried red cayenne, serrano, or Thai chili, halved
12 to 15 fresh curry leaves
¾ cup freshly grated coconut
Cut the cabbage in half, and cut out the thick core in the middle. Shred the leaves as you would for coleslaw. A food processor will do this job very well. Place the shredded cabbage in a colander, and wash it under running water, then drain. Cut the green chilies into thin strips, and combine them with the cabbage. Sprinkle salt and the turmeric over the shredded cabbage, and mix well.
Heat oil in a heavy, large skillet and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the dal, halved red chili pepper, and curry leaves, and fry until the dal turns golden. Add the cabbage to the skillet. Mix well, and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the cabbage, and cover the skillet. Remove the cover after two minutes, and stir gently. Cook the cabbage for five to eight minutes, stirring occasionally. When the cabbage is well cooked, sprinkle grated coconut on top and stir gently. Serve warm, with rice and curries.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.