‘Bandgobi’… ‘Bandakopi’… A Dry Cabbage Preparation

Ambrose Bierce, an American writer, once described cabbage to be a vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.  Wise or not, it surely has found its place in almost every cuisine. Though not many people may really appreciate this vegetable, but its supposed to be a dieter’s friend. Nutritious, least in calories, good source of vitamins, fiber, potassium – it can be used in salads or as main course dish.

That’s all about the ‘wise-ness’ of cabbage. Though the story with me is completely different. My  fondness for this veggie has followed a sinusoidal curve all these years. I started off liking it.. then gradually disliked it because of its strong flavor… again when cooked really well my liking returned and so on. So I really can’t say much about my fancy for this wise leafy green.

When I started cooking, it was an unsaid declaration between me and BBC never to bring home a cabbage. He had tried cooking it once and failed miserably, and for some reason I assumed that if I cooked it would taste like grass. So we never attempted!

It was only when I visited my friend Appy’s place and had the spicy ‘bandakopi’ with ‘luchi’ did we both realised what we were missing. True – unless cooked well, this preparation might taste like grass, but it was worth an attempt. So the very next week, I brought home a big cabbage head, got instructions and tips from friends and families, looked up all kinds of recipes and was cooking it over and over again in my mind. But reality had something else in store for me. All my doubts and fears came true after an hour of slaving in the kitchen… the dish was ‘weirdly bad’. I did not.. could not identify what went wrong but it was awful. I had cooked the whole head and what I was left with was a big mess!

Next came the troubleshooting hero – BBC, took a portion of the mess.. did what-not and turned it into an edible dinner course. I followed his cue and over the next seven days added whatever I could to the ‘mess’ and made it edible. Finally we had different cabbage varieties one with peas… one with onions… one with shrimps and we were able to finish the large head in a week’s time.

Postmortem analysis showed:

  1. The spices were not in proportion to the amount of cabbage I was cooking.
  2. I had added water to ensure the chopped greens and spices blend in well which ruined the entire dish.
  3. I was trying to cook it the way my grandmother used to do.. without onions, hence it was even less spicy.

Lesson Learnt: (may not be accurate but works for me)

  1. Always use a little bit more spices for making this preparation. Use a medium-sized cabbage head and cook half at one time.
  2. It should be cooked without adding water. Best is to steam it before hand so that it can be cooked faster than normal time.
  3. Why take a chance, you want it spicy.. so add onions. Once you are a pro in cooking this you can try other variations.

The positive me inspired by the lessons learnt brought home a medium-sized cabbage head the week after. Cooked half of it, used my best skills and lo…. it was perfect! the way I had wanted. And then I knew that no task is impossible if you set your heart to it. I failed once, but I also learnt from it. And now I had another recipe for my blog, another feather in my cap 🙂 … another nutritious green to our diet.

Ingredients:

  • Cabbage – 1/2 of a medium size
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Whole Garam Masala –
    • Green Cardamom – 4
    • Cloves – 3
    • Cinnamon – 2 one inch stick
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Onions, finely chopped – 1 and 1/2 medium-sized
  • Green chillies, slit – 3-4 or to taste
  • Ginger, grated or paste – 1-2 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp or to taste (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Tomatoes, finely chopped – 2 medium
  • Potato peeled and cubed – 1 medium
  • Peas, frozen – 1/2 cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Ghee – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Lime juice – 4 to 5 drops (optional)
  • Freshly chopped cilantro for garnishing

Method:

  • Discard the stalk , the thick stem and any loose outer leaf of the cabbage head.
  • Finely chop it into thin long shreds.
  • In a large pot or wok on medium to low flame, add the chopped shreds and cover for 5 minutes in order to steam it. Occasionally remove the lid and stir it so that it does not get burnt.
  • Once done drain the chopped greens and remove excess water from the wok. This will ensure that the green leaves become a little tender.
  • Marinate the cubed potatoes in little salt and turmeric.
  • Dry the wok and heat it. Add oil. Fry the cubed potatoes till light golden in color and keep aside. Do not cook them completely.
  • In the same oil add the bay leaf and whole garam masala. You may also grind the whole garam masala to a powder and add to the oil.
  • Add cumin seeds and once they start sizzling add the finely chopped onions and fry well till they are golden brown in color.
  • Add slit green chillies, ginger paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt and red chilli powder. Mix well.
  • Add the finely chopped tomatoes and cover and cook till all the spices have mixed completely and oil starts separating.
  • Now add the steamed cabbage shreds to the mixture and cover and cook. Occasionally remove the lid and stir to prevent from burning.
  • Continue cooking for 20-30 minutes. Normally it should get cooked without adding any water, however just sprinkle a few drops if required.
  • Once it is cooked halfway through, add the fried potatoes and  peas, give a good stir, cover and cook completely.
  • Once done, adjust salt, add garam masala powder and ghee if desired.
  • Instead of ghee, you can also add few drops of lemon juice.
  • Mix well and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.
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