Wednesday 22 August 2012

"Maveli Nadu Vaneedum Kalam"... Cabbage Thoran

Preparing a traditional Onasadya may seem like an ordeal to many. But to be honest, it is not. All it requires is proper planning and organizing. For those of you who have adequate help to chop up and help in the cooking process, preparing an Onasadya is a piece of cake. But for those of you who have to prepare everything alone from scratch (including chopping, washing up etc...), it is good to plan your Onam meal in advance. A few simple steps if followed correctly will result in a delicious Onasadya. I follow these simple steps always (be it Onam or not) which has made my life easier.

1. The first step in the planning process is to make a List of ingredients needed to cook up the yummy spread. Write down all the ingredients (both fresh and dry) and  stock up your pantry and refrigerator through the week. (atleast a week before you plan to cook your meal) Going through each of the recipes you plan to cook will be a good idea to help you prepare your ingredient checklist perfectly.

2. The next most important step is the Mise en place which means "everything in place". Setting up or preparing the necessary ingredients is very crucial in this whole process. This could include organizing and arranging the ingredients like measuring out the ingredients, grinding of spices, grating of coconut, (you would need lots of coconut as it is pretty much used in every item prepared in a Sadya) washing and chopping of veggies, peeling of onions and garlic and ginger, par cooking certain items etc.... These partially prepared ingredients can then be stored in freezer and refrigerator-safe ziploc bags or containers (you can label them if you want to avoid confusion) and placed in the freezer or refrigerator. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows you to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable especially in recipes with time constraints.

3. Once the above steps are carried out efficiently, cooking up all the dishes is a piece of cake.

I share the above steps with you because following them definitely helps when you need to cook for guests or many people. It helps reduce the burden on you. And as I always say, being an amateur cook, my knife skills which include perfect cutting and speed are not too strong. Hence planning and organizing is key to my everyday cooking.

Today I have for you the second dish of this special Onam edition, Cabbage Upperi or Thoran. Thoran or Upperi is a typical Kerala cuisine dish. This popular and common dish is usually prepared to be eaten along with steamed rice and curry. It is an essential part of the Sadya along with other dishes.

Thoran is a dry dish traditionally made out of finely chopped vegetables such as  beans, carrot, raw papaya, unripe jackfruit, spinach and lots more. The chopped veggie is mixed with grated coconut, chillies, mustard seeds, curry leaves, pearl onions, garlic, turmeric etc (the traditional style of cooking did not use onions or garlic, but presently they are also added) ... and briefly stirred in a pan over a hot flame.

So here is today's special recipe, the Cabbage Thoran. I hope you enjoy it. Have fun and happy planning for a sumptuous Onasadya! :)


Cabbage (finely chopped) - 1 (small)
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli - 1
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Oil - as required
Rice or Urad dal - a few grains

For Grinding or Crushing

Grated Coconut - 4 to 5 tbsp
Shallots/Pearl Onions - 5 to 6
Garlic - 3 cloves
Green chillies - 1 to 2 (adjust as per spice tolerance)
Curry leaves - a few


Grind or crush all the ingredients listed under "For Grinding or Crushing" into a coarse mixture. Keep aside.

Heat oil in wok. Once the oil heats up, add a few grains of rice or urad dal and saut'e till lightly browned. Now splutter mustard seeds. Throw in the red chilli and fry for a few seconds. Add the finely chopped cabbage leaves and saut'e on medium heat till veggie reduces in quantity. (1 minute approx.) Toss in the coarsely ground or crushed coconut mixture along with adequate salt, turmeric powder and curry leaves and mix lightly. Bring the cabbage mixture to the centre of the wok and cover and cook on high flame till steam comes. Turn the flame to sim and let it remain for another minute or two. (or till veggie is cooked) Be careful not to burn the vegetable. Then remove lid and stir to combine all the ingredients well. Check for salt at this time and adjust if necessary. Keep saut'eing till cabbage is done. Switch off flame and serve hot.


1. I did not add any water while cooking the cabbage as the water released from the veggie was enough to cook the dish. But if you think you need to, add a splash of water and not more than that.

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