I am a big fan of Vij's, an elegant and innovative Indian restaurant in Vancouver, BC. (We even gave you a peek inside Vikram Vij's home kitchen!) The cookbooks by the owners of this restaurant are some of my favorite resources for Indian home cooking, and there was one recipe from their first book I had had bookmarked for a long time: A simple one of cabbage in yogurt curry.
I finally made this, a few weeks ago, and I was blown away by its color! Hello, turmeric! (Watch out, this stuff stains like crazy.) The cabbage virtually glowed in its bright yellow sauce, with pops of black mustard seeds. It tasted sweet and mellow, as cooked cabbage usually does, and the sauce was fragrant — a rich, tangy dressing for a pile of rice. It was satisfying enough to be a vegetarian main dish, although in this case I served it as a side dish to spicy grilled chicken.
If you're wanting something quick, spicy, and vegetable-centered, this curry might very well hit the spot — another point for cabbage and its wonderful ways.
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Cabbage in Mild Yogurt and Mustard Seed Curry
In North America, cabbage is associated with coleslaw and lunch. In India, cabbage is one of the most popular vegetables and is used in a variety of vegetarian dishes. At Vij's, we serve this curried cabbage as a side to any of our meat dishes. The size of the cabbage pieces doesn't matter — if you prefer chunkier pieces, then cut them that way — but be careful not to overcook them, as the cabbage will become sweet and lose its crunch. We recommend that you use 4% milkfat yogurt, and nothing less. Actually, if you aren't watching your weight, it's best to use 10% milkfat Mediterranean-style yogurt. If you are lactose intolerant, substitute 1 1/2 cups stirred coconut milk for the yogurt. Serves 6.
1 head green cabbage, in 1 inch x 1 inch x 3 inch pieces
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp asafoetida
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, stirred
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp ground coriander
Place cabbage pieces in a colander and rinse well. Drain cabbage of any excess water. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium-high for 1 minute. Add asafetida and allow it to sizzle for 10 seconds. Add mustard seeds and cook until you hear the first popping sound, about 1 minute. Immediately turn off the heat. (The popping sound means that the seeds have cooked and are beginning to burn.)
After 5 minutes, stir in yogurt and turn on the heat to medium, stirring continuously for 1 minute. Add salt, cumin, turmeric and coriander. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the oil glistens. Add cabbage and stir well. Make sure the masala and cabbage are completely combined. If you are ready to serve the cabbage, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking it for 5 minutes. Otherwise turn o¤ the heat and reheat on medium-high for 3 to 4 minutes just before serving. Can be used right away. Will keep refrigerated for up to 1 day in a sealed container, but this dish loses its texture after a day in the fridge.
From the book Vij's: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine (c) 2006, by Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij. Published by Douglas and McIntyre an imprint of D&M Publishers Inc. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
(Images: Faith Durand)