Cabbage Upkari

This Lent I hope to post as many vegetarian dishes as possible but the main focus will be on easy and simple cooking so that I stay out of the kitchen and spend more time in prayer and retrospection. Since my kids are pretty fussy I cannot eliminate non vegetarian foods completely from my menu but I have decided to limit it to just seafood and eggs this season. A lot of readers tell me that my pictures make them salivate and I definitely don't want to be the temptress making it hard for you :-) While I personally believe that it is not food you should give up but your vices, to each his own really.

Today's recipe is something extremely simple and unassuming preparation of cabbage - disliked by many but loved at my place. I usually prepare it the Thel Piao way (oil and onion style) but it has been done to death and so I switched to another preparation last year - the Miryapito (pepper style) which is a hit anytime I make it. A different way of making this cruciferous vegetable is to shred it finely and lightly stir fry/steam it so that it retains its crunchiness, then temper it with a few ingredients and you are done. 

The term 'upkari' stands for a side dish that is usually involves stir fried vegetables that are tempered and served with a garnishing of coconut. It tastes best with chapathis if you ask me as the cabbage has this unique 'sweetness' that goes so well with chapathis but it goes just as well with rice and some dal. Enjoy!

Cabbage Upkari
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 5-7 mins | Serves 4

1.Finely shred the cabbage, soak in plenty of water to which salt & a little vinegar has been added. Keep aside for 10-15 mins and then drain off all the water * see notes
2. In a wok/kadhai heat some oil and when it is hot add the mustard. When the mustard stops spluttering toss in the curry leaves and then the broken chillies - stir for a few seconds taking care to see that the heat isn't too much and the ingredients don't burn
3. Add the shredded cabbage, salt to taste and lightly sprinkle it with water (not more than 2-3 tablespoons). Cover the pan and cook for a few minutes - cabbage should retain its crunch so don't overcook till the leaves are limp (and half dead!). The steam is enough to cook it
4. Garnish with coconut and cover the pan for a few seconds (the heat is necessary to ensure that the coconut doesn't turn stale after a few hours)
5. Remove from heat and serve hot with rice or chapathis

1. Vegetables such as cabbage and cauliflower are known to have parasites so it is best to soak them for a while in vinegar and salt. You can also add a little bit of turmeric but it will alter the colour of the veggies so I haven't added it to the cabbage
2. If you like the cabbage to be a little tangy you can sprinkle a few drops of lime juice or add 'sol' along with the cabbage and cook it. (Sol is also called as 'monkey jack' in English - it is a sour fruit that resembles breadfruit and is dried and used popularly in Mangalorean cuisine. Sol should not be confused with kokum)
3. Cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts and similar green leaf vegetables need to be cooked very lightly to retain their crunch.

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