Recipe Source: Humbad, Sunetra and Amy Schafer Boger, M. D. Indian Vegetarian Cooking At Your House. Book Publishing Company, Summertown, 1995 p. 124.
I want to like cabbage. I truly do. It's inexpensive, it's readily available and easily grown in most parts of this country and it is very versatile. I also have hated it with a passion for as long as I can remember. It smells bad when it's cooking or at least when it's being cooked in certain ways for certain lengths of time and it has a sweet flavor that just doesn't sit well with me most of the time. It is also not easily digested and I will stay away from discussing that any further. Still, I keep trying to find ways to make cabbage tolerable in an effort to make my cooking more sustainable for both the planet and my wallet.
Every once in a while I find a recipe that works. There was a German recipe, a braised red cabbage, that wowed me. There was this tenth century Iraqi recipe that I couldn't get enough of. Most of the time I am ambivalent at best. This is one of those times. I wasn't repulsed, which is good. I can't actually eat the Pickled Cabbage from the medieval German feast I served or even be in an enclosed space when I serve it, even though I've been assured "you're doing it right." Still, it's not one that I'd go out of my way to have again. I think if I'd added a little more spice I'd probably have been happier, but my daughter still thinks she doesn't like spicy food so I kept it mellow. I added a little more cinnamon than I intended thanks to an ill-timed sneeze but I don't think that had a negative effect on this dish. (I don't have any pre-packaged garam masala; instead I mix together spices that suit me at the moment and in this case I combined some cinnamon, ginger and cardamom.)
Even though I wasn't overly enthusiastic about this dish my daughter and husband really enjoyed it. I guess that the problem, once again, is simply me. Oh well.
Spiced Cooked Cabbage (serves 4; approx. $0.64/serving)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (or less, to taste)
1 head green cabbage, shredded
Water as needed
- Large, deep saute pan with lid
- Heat the oil in the saute pan.
- Add the seeds and the asafoetida. Cook until the seeds begin to splutter. This shouldn't be more than a couple of minutes.
- Add the onion and saute until the onion is soft.
- Add the remaining ingredients. I'd start with no more than half a cup of water just to keep the spices, et cetera from sticking. Cabbage tends to have plenty of water of its own. Simmer over low heat 10 minutes or so. It should be slightly crunchy but still cooked when you're done.