Count Broccula's veg-head ramblings

My home experiments with vegetarian cooking. Focused on seasonal produce with some vegan stuff thrown in for good measure. I may include random other food-related stuff as I please.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Cabbage T'horin

Not, as you might suspect, Klingon cabbage. Apparently this is a South Indian dish from the province of Kerala, which is heavy on the coconut palms (at least according to Crescent Dragonwagon, author of "Passionate Vegetarian." For this one, the basic idea was -- saute some onions, some mustard seeds, some paprika, throw in a finely chopped small head of cabbage and a tiny bit of water and salt and cook for 6-8 minutes, then throw in 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut. It wasn't bad, but it could have been better, and it was partly my fault. I made a bunch of substitutions. I used mustard powder instead of mustard seeds (it was what I had), I used regular old angel flake coconut (the sweetened kind from the grocery store -- I always have some in the freezer leftover from German's chocolate cake) but that didn't seem to make a huge difference, and I added grated carrots (her introduction to the recipe said that the people in Kerala often do, and it sounded good, and I had some carrots).

So here's the play by play of why those moves were wrong -- I think the mustard seeds would have added a little heat, which the dish needed. Also, by adding the carrots without adjusting the salt up a little, I undersalted the dish. Which, incidentally, was compounded by the fact that a "small" head of cabbage in the rest of the world is probably half the size of what I think of as small here in California.* It ended up tasting fine after I salted my personal serving (and added a dash of hot cock).

The other thing that could have gone better was chopping the cabbage. Dragonwagon suggests having a very sharp knife or a food processor handy, because the cabbage needs to be in pieces 1/4 inch or smaller. Since I am lazy, the food processor option appealed to me. I cored and quartered the cabbage and threw three of the quarters into my Cuisinart. I pushed "pulse," and it chopped a little. I did it again. After about five pulses, I realized that the chopped stuff in the bottom was going to get liquified, while the stuff that hadn't gotten chopped yet wasn't budging. I rearranged the pieces and tried again with the same effect. Finally, I ended up processing the cabbage in batches, one quarter of the head at a time. It worked fine, but had I known that was how it was going to be in the beginning, I probably would have just chopped it with a knife, since (being lazy and all), I hate washing all 67 pieces of the food processor. Especially if it doesn't end up saving me much time or effort.

I bought a bunch of fresh fruit, and we've been eating it all. I mentioned that I like to eat stuff grown seasonally and locally, but man, I can't resist tropical fruits like mangoes and pineapple, even bananas! The only disappointment so far has been the navel oranges, which aren't nearly as sweet as the ones that were in the CSA box; they're kind of pithy and bitter.

* It took me a long time to figure out this "California produce vs. the rest of the country produce" thing, but Weight Watchers started turning the gears for me. See, it'll say something like "One large banana, about 3/4 cup." Hah! Have you SEEN bananas around here? That's a SMALL banana around these parts. Same with other fruits; a cookbook will often say "a large apple, about the size of a baseball." Softball, you mean. I've gotten apples from local farmers markets damn near as big as my head. (Okay, that's hyperbole, but still . . .) I don't think people in, say, the midwest, could even translate their recipes into California-ese. I had an apple cake recipe once that called for something like "8 cups of grated apples, or about 16 apples." Yeah, right! I had so many leftover apples I couldn't fit them all in the fruit bowl. Anyway, I know I only have about two readers, and they're both living in CA with me, but if someone in, say, North Dakota should happen across this, it might be an interesting piece of information, no?


Post a Comment

<< Home