Thursday, January 14, 2016

A New Delicious Indian Style Side Dish

I may have mentioned a time or two ;) how much I love Indian food. Everything about the flavors just hit the spot, for me. Some time ago I made a recipe for Cauliflower in Indian Spices, but had yet to try making something with cabbage. I chanced to see a recipe in passing, a few days back, and looked at it more closely. I took the usual route of looking at other similar recipes before sitting down to compose something that fit my own criteria. 
Indian Cabbage and Rice

My husband and I had been in Denver over the recent holidays, and while there I went to Whole Foods Market. We have nothing at all like that near us, so when the opportunity strikes, I take it. While there I bought quite a few turmeric roots, fresh. I always put turmeric powder into my oatmeal in the morning, mainly for health benefits, and since returning with the fresh roots, I have been grating that into my oatmeal instead. So when I sat to compose a recipe for Indian Cabbage and Rice, my plan was that fresh turmeric would be an ingredient. Hurray! Another use for the fresh turmeric. I will be sad to see it gone, truly, because the flavor is so different when it is fresh!

Turmeric - Curcuma longa

Fresh Turmeric Root
Turmeric is a plant of the ginger family, and native to southwest India. It is used throughout south Asia in cooking for its pungency and color as well as for deep golden dyes. The part used is the root, in actuality a rhizome. The roots are lifted out and sold fresh or dried and ground. When fresh, the roots are a deep orange color and the favor is described as peppery, warm and bitter. Ground turmeric is most often found in areas where the plant will not grow, and it is easily found most anywhere. It is known for the deep, golden yellow color it gives, particularly to things like yellow mustard. It is also usually a significant ingredient in commercial yellow "curry powders."

When using turmeric, whether fresh or dried, care is needed when using it, as it will stain. The intense yellow color will stain hands, nails, cutting boards and anything else it comes in contact with. 

In cooking, the use of turmeric is an excellent way to brighten colors in a dish Adding a small bit to a food that is already yellow, such as egg salad, makes the color more appealing. Turmeric is an excellent addition to bean and lentil dishes as the flavors compliment these legumes. Indian lentil and dal recipes most often call for turmeric. 

Indian Cabbage and Rice
Turmeric is most often used in savory culinary applications, although it can be used in sweet applications. A tiny pinch in a bread, cake or cookie recipe will impart golden color without imparting much flavor.  

Back to My Cabbage and Rice

I love rice, and I love cabbage. I love Indian spices. I figured this whole dish would be a match made in heaven. Speaking for myself, I just couldn't get enough of this dish last evening. I kept sneaking bites while waiting for the pork chops to finish cooking. I snuck more bites after dinner while cleaning up after the meal. While the flavors didn't jump out and scream at you, they were certainly a lovely mixture. If you look closely at the photos, you can just pick out the little bits of bright orange turmeric in the dish. Of course, dried turmeric can be used instead, and once my precious fresh roots are gone, I will make this dish again with dried turmeric powder.

Indian Cabbage and Rice

Indian Cabbage and Rice
makes 6 or more servings

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or ghee

2 whole green cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1-inch true cinnamon, broken
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 "tej patta" or "tamal patra" leaf, optional
1 pinch asafoetida, optional

2 tablespoons oil or ghee

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-inch fresh ginger root, minced
2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 jalapeno chilies, minced
1-inch fresh turmeric root, grated, OR use ground, below: 
1/2 small cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)

1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, if no fresh is available
2 - 3 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Set the rice ingredients into a medium saucepan, bring to boil and reduce to a strong simmer. Cover with a lid and time for 15 minutes. Rice should be cooked through and no more liquid visible. Set aside once cooked.

In a large skillet, heat the oil or ghee. Add in all the Whole Masala ingredients and swirl the pan until the spices begin to crackle and sputter. Add in the onion, reduce heat and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent. Add in the ginger, garlic, chilies and turmeric root, if available. Cook and stir until the mixture is very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir well, mixing and tossing often while the cabbage cooks, about 10 minutes, or until it is as tender as desired. Once cooked, stir in the remaining 4 ingredients and stir well. 

Add in the cooked rice and stir well to completely combine and serve immediately. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.