Madhur Jaffrey's Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fennel Seeds

By • January 15, 2013 38 Comments

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Author Notes: Maybe the mistake we're making with cabbage is that we cook it to death or don't cook it 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. Note: 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. Recipe adapted very slightly from Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking (Chronicle Books, 2007).Genius Recipes

Serves 4

  • 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 (about 7 ounces), peeled and cut lengthwise into fine half rings
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  1. Remove coarse outer leaves of the cabbage. If you have a cabbage half, cut it in half again lengthwise, and then core the sections. Cut each section lengthwise into very fine, long shreds. A bread knife or chef's knife is ideal for this. (You can also use a food processor.)
  2. Put the oil in a wide, preferably nonstick or cast-iron pan, and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the cumin, fennel, and sesame seeds. As soon as the sesame seeds begin to pop, put in the onion. Stir and fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion has browned a bit.
  3. Put in the cabbage. Stir and fry for about 6 minutes or until the cabbage has browned somewhat. Put in the salt and cayenne. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring now and then, for another 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions appear caramelized and soft. Note: you may need to do this in a couple batches.
  4. Add the lemon juice and garam masala. Stir to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning.

More Great Recipes: Vegetables|Side Dishes|Cabbage|Fennel

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Comments (38) Questions (0)


5 months ago Crispin

I love ALL veggies (okay, maybe not okra) but I admit I have narrow-mindedly pigeonholed cabbage in the coleslaw category. Decided to try this based on the reviews, and WOW! It is beyond expectations. My husband, a veggie hater if there ever was one, initially turned up his nose, then Wolfe it down and could not stop complimenting me on it. I used olive oil because I don't use vegetable oil. Make sure you have the spices called for in the recipe. I'm planning on making this again tonight, this time using red cabbage and I'm going to increase the amount of spices, just a little. Save time by shredding your cabbage and onion with a mandolin. I served this with brown rice that I sauteed with garlic, mushrooms and egg. SO good!!!


5 months ago Rhonda35

I tried this with bok choy last night - it was delicious!


5 months ago Anne

Delicious! I took the suggestion of several to "put an egg on it", which I don't regret. I'd second or third that recommendation. I'm keeping this recipe tucked away for the next time I have a head of cabbage in my CSA. Thanks for sharing!


about 1 year ago marymary

I doubled this recipe to serve with a tandoori whole roasted chicken today. Didn't have fennel, so I subbed parsley, per another website, and subbed red pepper flakes for the cayenne. Delicious! I'll definitely make this again and again and...


over 1 year ago Vivi B.

I make this all the time and I really love it. Last night I added chick peas towards the end as I needed a hit of protein after a later work out. It was as fabulous as ever with the chick peas. I added a bit more lemon and I also added nigella seeds.


over 1 year ago JohnL

If the dish tasted soured, it might have been caused by an ingredient other than the garam masala. I've never had a dish soured by that spice blend, especially in such a small quantity. But lemon juice, especially the kind that comes in the little yellow plastic squeeze bottle, can ruin a recipe, especially when its poured on right at the last second as it is in the recipe.


over 1 year ago Girlfromipanema

I made this leaving out the sesame seeds and substituting red pepper flakes for the cayenne. I also doubled the recipe. It was an exotic dish coming out of my humble kitchen, which was lovely, but I think the quality of my spices was a little poor- there was a sour taste.

I will certainly make this again however, and will seek out a better garam masala.


over 1 year ago JohnL

Maddhur Jaffrey is one of my favorites. I can't remember making anything of hers that wasn't scrumptious. In one of her books, she makes a distinction between her garam masala recipe and the store bought kind. Throughout the book, each recipe that calls for garam masala either specifies store-bought or her personal recipe, so apparently the two aren't interchangeable. Her attention to these details ensure fantastic food every time for me. I think she has a wonderful palate and a knack for writing well tweaked recipes. I love her food. Except for her recipe for American iced tea, which I thought was almost tasteless. Otherwise, Madhur Jaffrey RULES. I keep a crock of her Goan Style Dal in the fridge as a staple item. Its addictive. Its become a ritual to pull out my little 2-qt yellow Le Creuset Dutch oven and make a weekly supply. I think its her favorite dal recipe, too. Mmmm so good.


over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Thanks John -- excited to know about her dal!


over 1 year ago JohnL

Kristen, I had a little trouble getting the recipe onto the site (the ingredients list kept disappearing) but Goan-Style Dal Curry is finally up. I noticed Food52 already has two other dal recipes that look very similar, but I am anxious to try one of them anyway. Always looking to improve my recipes. Jaffrey also has an "everyday dal" recipe but I read that this one is her favorite. Sometimes I like to mix this dal with cooked rice when I am reheating it in the microwave. . When re-heating, I like to brighten it up with a nice pinch of fresh chopped cilantro.


over 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Wow -- thanks John, and for including your tips. It looks great. I love the flavor of ton of curry leaves, but appreciate that it's still good without, since they're hard to find.


over 1 year ago hannah

I made this using red cabbage threw in some arugula at the end. It was easy, delicious, and rather beautiful! Two thumbs up!!


over 1 year ago Chocolate Be

I make this about once a month, serving it on GABA brown rice for a wonderfully filling and healthy vegetarian dinner, not as a side, but as the main event. Just love it. I increase all the spices just a tad bit. Delish!


over 1 year ago carswell

I've made this a couple of times now - it's a great recipe.


over 1 year ago student epicure

yum! i love all recipes from madhur jaffrey!


almost 2 years ago Kathy Cooks

This has got to be an all time favorite recipe I swear I will make my own garam masala just as soon as I slow down but not matter - it is still divine. I am cooking this tonight with Betty Watson's Basic Pot Roast pot roast and I Know everyone is going to think I am such a good cook! I know that this will be a little different addition to a basic pot roast but with Basic, Bang Up Blue Cheese Dressing on the salad, who could go wrong?


almost 2 years ago JohnZ

Quick and delicious! Just the other weekend my sister and I were planning an Indian feast when she mentioned a good cabbage recipe she had found on food52. Right after she said that she flipped to this recipe in one of my Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks. Providence!


about 2 years ago za'atar

Delicious ... this is so simple and so good. Works wonderfully as a side or for breakfast or lunch with a fried egg. Can't wait to make it again!


about 2 years ago hookmountaingrowers

Excellent! Wouldn't modify anything at all!


over 2 years ago vivavo

I made this with some shrimp and brown rice and absolutely loved it. I don't know that it would feed 4 without the rice, but with it's a perfect light and healthy dinner. My version here:


over 2 years ago adele93

i have some Chinese cabbage to use up - not sure its the same type specified in the recipe, but ill give it a go


over 2 years ago Daniel Decline

I didn't have all the ingredients as I was cooking out of a military barracks but I had enough that I tried to pull it off. Instead of sesame seeds, I used sesame seed oil and I increased the fennel seeds and used a ground cumin spice. I didn't have marsala either so I used a madras curry powder. From what little I remembered about marsala, I tried to replicate a more savory flavor by also adding bay leave, ginger and cinammon (because why not?). Anyways, it came out delicious. It was a good exercise in cooking with what you got which I frequently have to do and I thank you for providing such an awesome starting point! xx


over 2 years ago MadChef

The taste was fantastic. I used crushed red pepper in place of cayenne and added a little mustard seed to the spice fry. The cabbage and onion caramelized together was beautiful in color. I topped my serving with a crispy fried duck egg.