Genius Recipes

Madhur Jaffrey's Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fennel Seeds

By • January 16, 2013 • 36 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- FOOD52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Cabbage gets frisky.

Poor cabbage.

Oh, we'll remember it when coleslaw is on the menu, or as a buddy for corned beef. But when we're trying to think up a vegetable side, there are others that get us all riled up -- "let's get that twirly broccoli!" or "ooh, shaved asparagus!" we say. 

It's never "ooh, cabbage." It hasn't even had one of those crucifer underdog revivals yet, like brussels sprouts or cauliflower.

But maybe it's about to. Anyone who's made fiveandspice's Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage -- or any of the other 6 recipes in last week's envelope-pushing "Sexy Cabbage" roundup -- knows there's a whole lot of potential locked up in those milky white leaves.

So when food writer China Millman, my star genius source, told me, "This recipe has turned cabbage into one of my favorite vegetables," I knew something good was coming. 

Maybe the mistake we're making is that we cook to death or don't cook at all. By skating somewhere down the middle, Madhur Jaffrey's stir-frying method crams in an incredible amount of flavor in very little time. And yet it still manages to bring out the shy cabbage's own personality, not painting it over like creamy slaws or braised piles, drunk with cinnamon and wine. 

 

 

Here are the keys to a cabbage makeover: Get some oil hot in a wide sturdy skillet, and toast your whole seeds -- fennel, cumin, and sesame -- in it. When they pop, stir in your onion curls till they're sweet, soft, and singed here and there.    

Pile on as much sliced cabbage as your pan can handle, and as much salt and cayenne as you like. Keep it hot and the cabbage moving -- it will quickly shrink into an attractive heap. 

Then one more last-second hit of flavor: garam masala and -- especially, crucially -- lemon.

If you can't find garam masala, you can make your own with Jaffrey's recipe, or approximate it with pinches of ground cardamom, black pepper, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

For anyone who loves Indian food, but hasn't tried cooking it at home, this is a cozy place to start (before moving on to the rest of Jaffrey's cookbooks). Serve the nubby, glossy strands with chicken or fish or lamb -- ones that are spicy, or ones that need some perking up. Or just over rice. Maybe with a crispy fried egg

Ooh. Cabbage.

Madhur Jaffrey's Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fennel Seeds

Recipe adapted very slightly from Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking (Chronicle Books, 2007)

Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds green cabbage (half a large head)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 medium-large onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

 

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom (except Madhur Jaffrey by Muir Vidler for the Guardian)

 

 

 

Jump to Comments (36)

Tags: genius, Madhur Jaffrey, cabbage, stir-fried cabbage, winter, greens

Comments (36)

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about 1 month ago Janice

I used mustard oil instead of veg oil, makes pungent and wonderful difference.

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about 1 month ago emcsull

now there's a good idea !!!

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9 months ago heather

this is so good just made it but made a little bit more spicy my husband will love this we both love Indian food thanks for the recipe ?

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over 1 year ago hbomb

A variation of this dish became a staple in my kitchen a couple years ago. I skip the onion and add chopped fresh mango, or if I had time whenever mangos were cheap carribean style mango salsa that I can.

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over 1 year ago samanthaalison

This is some seriously sexy cabbage.

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over 1 year ago sandicookie

i love frisky!

Stringio

over 1 year ago dacyalisan

hello, I love to follow your blog, hope you can read and follow my blog too
http://dacyalisan.blogspot...
regards
Dacya

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over 1 year ago Eliza Bradford

i think it is pretty good not my favorite

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over 1 year ago emcsull

I have revered Madhur Jaffrey and her cookbooks for 20 years, no suprise to find her here, she is the best !

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over 1 year ago PRST

Made this last night with a mix of napa and savoy cabbages. YUM! I was skeptical about the small amounts of spices but found the recipe to be right on. My husband can't wait to use the leftovers on his lunch sandwich.

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over 1 year ago Christina @ Christina's Cucina

This sounds delicious! When I read the title, I immediately thought of the Italian dish my family makes which we call minestra which is mostly cabbage with other greens, beans and fennel seeds (to mimic the flavor of the kind of sausage which goes into it in Italy.) It's so incredibly healthy because it's all greens-actually a community pick here on Food52 ;) http://christinascucina...

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over 1 year ago Literary Equivalent

Oh, I have made this and it's fantastic! Thanks for the reminder. Yum.

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over 1 year ago Jabwok

I know it's lazy but I often buy coleslaw and stir fry it. I'm going to use this recipe. My "coleslaw" is often flavored Chinese, Italian and now Indian,
J

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over 1 year ago cook4fun

Choosing not to make sauerkraut yesterday I was wondering what to do with the 2 cabbages in our fridge. Well, the first of the two became Stir-fried Cabbage with Fennel Seeds. A perfect lunch. I'm imagining the same fate for the second cabbage as well. Thank you for another genius recipe. One change, okay two changes. Not having sesame seeds (or not finding the sesame seeds I know are in the bottom of the freezer somewhere), I substituted 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds. Delicious and big enough for a nice crunch when you get one. Also, subbed Aleppo Pepper for the cayenne ;-)

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over 1 year ago Judy Clements

I love Madhur Jaffrey's recipes and cook lots of Indian at home. I'm always looking for ways to use Szechwan Pepper so wonder about leaving out the garam masala and sprinkling in a little bit, for that surprising tingly sensation it gives. What do you think?

Miglore

over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Sounds like a fun variation! I love that strange tingling too. Let us know how it goes if you try it out.

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almost 2 years ago aimeebama

This is outrageously good. Tonight's seal of approval via our toddler: «Nummmmmmmy!» (She couldn't get enough of it.)

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almost 2 years ago Brette Warshaw

It's taken three years, but I've officially converted my roommates to cabbage-lovers. All it took was this recipe. Thanks K!

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Made this for dinner; even better than I imagined. Excellent recipe. ;o)

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almost 2 years ago darksideofthespoon

I just went to the store (for milk, etc) and saw a head of cabbage. I knew right away I had to buy it to make this dish tomorrow night. Very excited!

Although, could I use purple cabbage? I already have a head of it in my fridge too, although I wasn't sure. No matter though, I can use it for a million other things! ;)

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I haven't tried it, but why not? Let us know how it goes if you do!

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almost 2 years ago Fairmount_market

I love this recipe and am so happy to see it featured! And I think it's very flexible; I found that it even works well with green and purple brussels sprouts: http://fairmountmarket...

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almost 2 years ago Anna Hezel

This couldn't come at a better time - I have a head of cabbage in my refrigerator right now with Madhur Jaffrey's name on it.

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I always felt like the heads of cabbage in my fridge needed more names on them. This helps!

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almost 2 years ago china millman

When I make this cabbage, I tend to eat about half from the pan before it even hits the table. After reading kristen's beautiful description, I will definitely have to make it this week!

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thanks again for yet another fantastic genius tip, China!

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love this!! In fact, I'll probably make it this evening. Anyone who likes Ms. Jaffrey's recipes should read her beautiful, captivating memoir: "Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of Childhood in India." http://www.amazon.com/Climbing... . ;o).

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almost 2 years ago Panfusine

One of my favorite books.. I love the recipe she included int that book for yogurt and dumplings.. It's her mothers..divine!

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almost 2 years ago Angela

fennel is a big no-no for my husband. any ideas for a sub? just more of the other spices?

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almost 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

It would be different, but you could try mustard seeds. I make a sauteed cabbage with spices including mustard seed that I totally love.

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'd use kala jeera, a smoky black cumin that goes well with regular cumin and onions. I've never tried it with sesame, but am sure it would go well. I buy kala jeera from Penzeys, when that's more convenient than going to my favorite Indian grocer, which doesn't always have it on hand anyway. (And I'm looking for new ways to use kala jeera, so I most certainly will be trying it in this . . . after making the original recipe at least once.) ;o)

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almost 2 years ago Angela

I have both mustard seeds and kala jeera from Penzeys! Will try those. Thanks!

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Angela, it's funny -- I think Julia Moskin must not love fennel seeds either. In the version of this recipe she adapted for the NY Times, she cut them: http://www.nytimes.com...

But I think fiveandspice and AntoniaJames' alternates sound more exciting!

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almost 2 years ago Panfusine

This type of stir fried cabbage is one of the most common dishes in Indian homes. Its one of those every day offerings. The South Indians sauté it with mustard seeds, cumin and one dried arbol chile. Others use panch phoron, the variations are countless.. Go ahead, feel free to omit the fennel.,

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almost 2 years ago Midge

I've been hooked on the stir fried cabbage in Hot Sour Salty Sweet, but can't wait to try this version!

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Must try that one. Thank you!