I’ve mentioned thoran before. It’s absolutely my favourite way to use cabbage and I quite often eat it with brown rice and dahl. I ate stacks of it while I was in India recently because you can hardly get a meal without it in Kerala! It’s not only cabbage though – the cabbage sometimes has carrot mixed in with it, or it can be green beans, okra or beetroot. I enjoyed them all but I really think this dish brings the best out of the humble cabbage! I learnt a few tricks in India about how to make better thoran, and subsequently this one was the best I’ve made.
The first thing I learnt was that whatever vegetable you use you need to chop it really finely. Green beans and okra should be cut into tiny pieces, and cabbage, carrot and beetroot should be almost grated. For the picture above I used the food processor and it was a bit over mushy – I’ll hunt out the grater attachment next time. The amounts below are approximate because as ever I forgot to weigh them, but it doesn’t really matter – it doesn’t need to be exact.
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup grated coconut (I use frozen, from the Indian shop, but unsweetened dessicated will do. In India of course they use fresh)
2 chopped green chillies
1/2 onion, finely sliced
Sprig curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies
Combine the first lot of ingredients in a large bowl and really squeeze it together with your hands, almost as if you’re kneading it. That’s the thing I saw in India that I think really made the difference. Then heat a big pan or wok and add the coconut oil, then the red chillis and mustard seeds and heat until the seeds start to pop. Then add the cabbage mixture and stir fry for about 5 minutes on a high heat, then lower the heat and cover and cook for another 5 or until the cabbage is tender.
And here’s a picture of the chapatis I made for the same meal. I’ve made them before but these were the best I’ve ever made, copied from watching the chef on our houseboat.
I used about 150 gms of flour, mixed with about 100 mls of warm water and 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil until I got a nice smooth dough. I kneaded it for a bit then let it sit for about 20 minutes covered with a damp tea towel. I rolled them really thin and slapped them in a hot pan for just a minute on each side – they should still look under cooked. Then I held them over a naked flame on each side until they got nice brown speckles. They were really soft and flexible and yummy (and even stayed nice and soft when I reheated one the next day and ate it slathered with peanut butter for breakfast!).