Cabbage Sabzi

I’ve said it before and I’ll double down now: cabbage is my spirit vegetable. It has all the hearty cruciferous integrity of broccoli and none of the dubious floral bits. I’ll still eat broccoli, and I even enjoy the flavor. But if I am buying the vegetables, cabbage is the winner 10 times out of 10. There are few things that make me more excited in the kitchen than a new cabbage dish.

And when you’re looking for something novel to liven your culinary pursuits, there are few things more useful than a stroll through the pantheon of Indian cooking. So imagine my pure joy at discovering a new cabbage dish while browsing Indian recipes. Sabzi is traditionally cabbage, potato and tomato with a spicy kick. That makes it a candidate for a major no nightshade retrofit. And after a few trips around the block, I think we’re there.

Cabbage sabzi has quickly become a staple in our household as a hearty, savory, and simple meal all by itself. Add some flatbread and a dollop of Greek yogurt and it’s really all you need. But, like all Indian food, you can also fill the table with complimentary and contrasting dishes if you really want to throw a party for your taste buds.

A last note: I suspect my spicing is tuned for Beetuto, my own version of nomato. If you make it with another nomato, I’d love to hear how it turned out!

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons oil or ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
1 large onion finely chopped
1 generous tablespoon freshly ground ginger
3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
4 cups cabbage, shredded or chopped finely
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 – 3/4 teaspoon Grains of Paradise
1/4 – 3/4 teaspoon Indian Long Pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 rutabaga, chopped and parboiled
1 cup Beetuto (or other nomato)
1 cup peas

INSTRUCTIONS

1Peel and finely dice your rutabaga. Boil in moderately salted water until tender, between 15 and 20 minutes. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

2In a large skillet heat oil. Sauté cumin seeds and methi. If you’re new to this technique — called blooming — you’re going to heat them until the spices brown a bit, unlocking their aromatic potential. It’s pretty easy to overshoot the sweet spot and burn your spices here, so if you’re the kind of cook who tends to prep as you go, make sure your onions are all chopped and skillet-ready.

3Just as the spices reach aromatic perfection, add the chopped onion and mix thoroughly. This will redistribute the heat and keep your spices from burning. After a few minutes on medium heat add your ginger and garlic and sauté well.

4Add the cabbage and salt, mixing well. Continue cooking on medium heat; cover to keep some of the moisture in.

5Add turmeric, coriander, Grains of Paradise, Indian long pepper, and garam masala. (If you’ve never used the Grains of Paradise/Indian long pepper combination stay on the low side. This combination helps approximate heat. You’re not going to make your meal too hot, in the way that you might get overwhelmed by particularly hot nightshade peppers. But it can overwhelm the other spicing.) Mix well, then add the rutabaga. Turn up the heat a bit and keep stirring.

6Add the Beetuto and the peas. (Frozen peas are perfect here.) Mix well and bring to temperature.

7Lower heat and cover, allowing the mixture to come together. Don’t cook too long; you want the cabbage to still have just a bit of chewiness.

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