This is a weekly series on cooking with vegetables fresh from my parents’ backyard.
It is raining cabbages here in Foodilicious land. With winter making way for spring/summer, it is the ideal weather for cabbages to adjust their green collars and put up a fine show attired in their best greens. A visit to the kitchen garden in backyard at home is a treat to those who love fresh produce. Greens of all shades jostle for space – the bottle green of white radish leaves, the dark green of spinach leaves and spring onion shoots, the how-else-to-describe-it green of fenugreek leaves, the lovely green of coriander leaves and the light green of tender cabbage heads.
The backyard yields a couple of cabbage heads every other day. We use it in our salads, to make the typical dry Indian stir-fries, watery mixed vegetable side-dishes typical to north-Indian cooking as well as in traditional lentil gravy preparations from the south of India known as kootu.
It is one variety of the last sort – the kootu – that we prepared this morning. It is a variation of the usual full toor dal (split pigeon peas/thuvaram paruppu) kootu that my ma prepares. She makes this particular version kootu when the vegetable being used is fresh and tender and the flavor of the same dominates the kootu instead of the spices. We’ve used a mix of masoor dal (red gram) and split green gram with skin intact (chilke wali tooti moong) for a change in taste.
Cabbage Kootu (Cabbage in mixed lentil Gravy – south-Indian style)
Cabbage – 1 (medium)
Masoor dal (red gram) – ½ cup
Chilke wali tooti Moong (Split green gram with skin) – ½ cup
Sambhar/curry powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Asafoetida – a big pinch
Wash both masoor and moong (red and green grams) and pressure cook together with turmeric in three cups of water till three whistles
Chop cabbage and steam/microwave for 4-5 mins mixing once in between till nearly done
Heat oil and splutter mustard seeds
Add curry leaves and immediately add the cabbage
Sauté for a min and add cumin seeds, grated coconut, salt and cooked dal/gram
Let boil for a couple of mins before taking off heat
You can add up to ½ cup water before taking off heat to adjust consistency to your liking. Serve as a side dish with rotis or a semi-dry curry with rice or make a watery gravy and eat it mixed with rice
The Cabbage Kootu giving company to other dishes on the lunch platter
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