In the winter, there's nothing like cabbage. And there's a sentence I never thought I'd write. It must have been the many years in England that have made me come around to the vegetable. Like most people probably, I still have a bit of an aversion to the food on principle. Too many times overcooked and bland, cabbage has had a bad rap for the past generation or so. Only recently have chefs taken the poor humble cabbage and given it a face lift.
I've been a fan of braising vegetables since my experimentations with leeks, so this recipe was intriguing. Just enough Indian and Asian spice to make the whole thing interesting, but still, the braising brought out the inherent sweetness to the cabbage that made it a delightful side dish for the winter.
Oh cabbage, where have you been all my life?
Makes three servings
1 1/2 pounds savoy cabbage
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (I used ground mustard, it worked just fine)
20 curry leaves (also relied on the powdered form here, no problems)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons peeled, julienned fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomato
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Cut cabbage into 6 to 8 wedges, with the widest part no more than 2 inches, leaving the core intact so the wedges stay together while cooking. Place a heavy skillet, large enough to hold wedges fairly snugly, over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the cabbage, and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes a side. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-low, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and heat until it shimmers. Add cloves, mustard seeds, curry leaves, bay leaf, shallot and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add ginger, turmeric, 1 tablespoon jalapeño, tomato and broth. Season with salt to taste. If desired, add more jalapeño to taste.
Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Add cabbage, fitting it tightly together in the bottom of the pot. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and braise cabbage until tender, about 10 minutes, turning it once halfway through cooking. Remove and discard cloves, curry leaves and bay leaf. If desired, serve with rice.