Recipe: Coconut Cabbage and Mor Kuzhambu

South Indian-style comfort food can be a repast of lightly seasoned, barely cooked Coconut Cabbage served with Mor Kuzhambu or yoghurt curry, ghee rice, pickle and appalams or rice papads.

Cooking the cabbage so it remains crunchy, but is not really raw needs a little care and practice and Zelda Pande explains how.

Fried fish would be a great further addition to this soul-satisfying meal.

Coconut Cabbage

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • ½ a head of a medium-sized cabbage
  • 2 green chillies, cut lengthwise
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • ½-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 4-5 tbsp grated fresh coconut
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp oil
  • 1 tsp whole white urad dal or white gram or white lentil
  • 1 tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • Large pinch hing or asafoetida
  • 8-10 curry patta or leaves

Method

  • Discard the outer few dark, thick leaves of the cabbage.
    Cut the cabbage in half through the stem and put aside one half for cooking something else.
    Place the remaining cabbage half face down on a cutting board and cut the cabbage in long very thin strips, not on the bias, but along the direction of its grain.
    One can usually achieve more even strips using a mandolin slicer.
  • Heat the oil with the urad dal in wok or heavy-bottomed kadhai over medium heat.
    As the urad starts to change colour add the rai.
    Let it pop for a few seconds and then add the hing.
    After 30 seconds add the curry patta and the onion and fry for a minute or so.
    Add the ginger, green chillies.
    Fry for another minute.
    Lower heat.
  • Add the cabbage, salt, coconut and toss lightly for just 1 minute and quickly take off heat.
    While the kadhai is still hot keep tossing the cabbage so the cabbage strands get well coated with the seasoning and the coconut and the cabbage continues to cook in the heat of the kadhai even if it is off the heat.
    Serve immediately because if this cabbage is reheated it will lose its crispness. 
    Also don’t cover or the steam will kill the crispness too.

Mor Kuzhambu

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 200 gm or about 1 cup dahi or yoghurt
  • 1 cup boiled/filtered/mineral water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp haldi or turmeric
  • ½-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 ½ tsp oil
  • 4 boriya chillies or round red chillies
  • 1½ tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • Large pinch hing or asafoetida
  • 10 curry patta or leaves

Method

  • In a bowl, whisk the dahi, water together and add the salt, haldi, ginger.
    Keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in kadhai or medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
    Add the rai.
    Let it pop and add the red chillies cut in half and the hing.
    Cook for another 30 seconds and add the curry patta.
    Fry for another 30 seconds and then add the dahi mixture.
    Lower heat.
    Don’t even bring the mixture to a boil or the yoghurt will split/phato.
    As soon it gets hot and is about to boil and the mor kuzhambu takes the colour of the haldi, take off heat.
  • Serve immediately because this dish doesn’t lend itself to reheating.
    Serve with the cabbage, ghee rice, appalams, tender mango pickle and fried fish.

Note: All kinds of vegetables can be dunked into Mor Kuzhambu at the time of the baghar or tadka and fried a bit till they lose their rawness, before the yoghurt mixture is added — bhindi or ladyfingers, baby brinjals, white pumpkin, orange pumpkin, drumsticks, fingers of mulee or white radish.

For a vegan version of Mor Kuzhambu, omit the yogurt and grind half a fresh coconut with a pinch of jeera and a pinch of black pepper. And add 3-4 tbsp of grated raw mango to the Mor Kuzhambu as well to achieve desired tanginess. These additions can be made to above recipe too.

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