Sometimes it feels like foods get a bad reputation. They're too this or too that, undercooked, overcooked, underseasoned, overseasoned. Perhaps you have traumatic childhood memories of being forced to eat "just a bite" of some unidentifyable greenish vegetable that sent you running under the table. Tonight's dinner aims to change your mind about at least one of them.
Madur Jaffrey's stir-fried cabbage with fennel seeds is the perfect base note for your culinary explorations. It may seem unexpected, but serve it over rice, put an egg on top, or let it play side to your favorite chicken recipe. Whatever you do, don't push away the plate before trying bite or two. It's worth the risk, and (gasp!) you just might love it.
(Organized by area of the market)
1 1/2 pounds green cabbage
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
We're assuming you already have vegetable oil, cayenne pepper, salt, and a medium-large onion, but if not, add those to your list, too!
With about 25 minutes to dinner, peel and cut the onion into thin slices remove the coarse outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut it into quarters, core the sections, and shred the cabbage using a bread knife (or a food processor). In a wide, non-stick pan, heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the spices, cooking until they pop, and then the onion slices, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, until they start to brown.
Now it's time to add the cabbage. Depending on the size of your pan, you may want to work in batches, so that you don't end up making a big cabbage mess on the stove. Stir and fry the shreds for 6 minutes, or until they start to brown. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, depending on your spice preference. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions appear caramelized and soft. At the very end, add in the tablespoon of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Garnish with whatever suits your fancy, or simply grab a fork and tuck in!
Photo by James Ransom