It’s November, and I think this year I must have eaten close to 50 meals of dal. Curried pulses, how I love you. I often make a giant pot on a Sunday and freeze portions to take for lunches, and it also gets eaten now and then for dinner too. I think of it as lazy-girl dal – lazy because I end up eating the same thing for lunch 3+ days a week; lazy because it means I don’t have to plan dinners with leftovers in mind; lazy because I can rarely be bothered cooking a second curry to get my veggie quota so always just chuck loads of vegetables (sweet potato, spinach and zucchini in the most recent pot) into the dal.
This, however, could be a game-changing vegetable curry. It’s easy and quick, but very tasty and hits my palate’s current (and recurrent) obsessions of cabbage, yoghurt and spice. The cabbage is cooked till it’s just tender, but still has a bit of crispness to the tooth. It’s sweated down in a flavourful mix of spices and onions, then dressed with coconut and the slight sourness of yoghurt. (Don’t, despite what Marth Rose Shulman says in the original recipe, use low-fat yoghurt for this – apart from the fact that you’d just be eating a bunch of stabilisers, low-fat is much more likely to curdle in the heat.)
This quantity is supposed to serve 6 just with rice, but it was so good that I ate about a quarter of it with both a little brown rice and a serving of that lazy-girl dal. I think I have found a perfect lunchtime match.
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3-4 tablespoons grated coconut (fresh or dried)
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons urad dal
1 teaspoon ground or flaked chili
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium onion, halved and very finely sliced
1 small cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 cup plain yoghurt, at room temperature
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds lightly, then grind them with a mortar and pestle.
If you are using dried coconut, put it in a little bowl covered with warm water to rehydrate.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil in a large saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and urad dal. As soon as you hear a few pops from the mustard seeds, add the ground cumin and coriander, the chili and the turmeric. Stir together then add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring, until it is softening. Add the cabbage and a good teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring, for another minute until it begins to wilt and everything is well mixed. You can deglaze the pan with a tiny dash of water at this stage if necessary.
Cover the pan, turn the heat to low, and cook for about 8 minutes, until the cabbage is just tender. Drain the coconut and stir through the cabbage. Taste for seasoning. Remove from heat.
Stir the yoghurt through the cabbage. Serve warm.