Cabbage Masala is a delicious side dish for rotis, a semi-dry sabzi that is full of flavour and yet very easy to prepare. Today, let me take you through the process of making this beauty.
In my neck of the woods, cabbage is commonly used to make poriyal or kootu, both of which are more suited to rice than rotis. This Cabbage Masala is a different way to use the vegetable for us, one that my family and I have fallen in love with over the years.
What goes into this Cabbage Masala?
This is a very simple preparation, requiring just a few ingredients that are commonly present in an Indian kitchen.
There’s only about 1/2 tablespoon oil used in the making of this sabzi, with a basic mustard-cumin seeds-asafoetida tempering. Chana masala and a bit of jaggery are used to add flavour to the sabzi.
Onion goes into this sabzi too. There’s tomato in it too, added in at the very end, when the sabzi is almost cooked through. Adding the tomato at the end is a hack I learnt from my sister-in-law – it doesn’t turn too mushy that way and makes the sabzi so much more flavourful than adding it at the beginning.
Since there’s very little oil used here, the sabzi is cooked on a medium flame, covered, with intermittent sprinklings of water.
How to make Cabbage Masala
The stepwise procedure follows.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 1/2 of a medium head of cabbage, 3 cups when finely chopped
- 1 medium-sized onion
3. 1 medium-sized tomato
4. 1/2 tablespoon oil
5. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
6. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
8. Salt to taste
9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
10. Red chilli powder to taste
11. 1/2 tablespoon chana masala or to taste
12. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
13. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1. Chop the cabbage finely. Keep aside.
2. Chop the onion finely. Keep it ready.
3. Chop the tomato finely too and keep it ready.
4. Now, we will start preparing the Cabbage Masala. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to sputter. Next, add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida, and let them stay for a few seconds.
5. Add the finely chopped onion to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium.
6. Saute on medium flame for about a minute or till the onion starts turning brown.
7. Add the chopped cabbage to the pan at this stage, still keeping the flame at medium. Also, add in a bit of salt and the turmeric powder, along with about 1/4 cup water.
8. Mix well. Cook covered on medium flame for about 3 minutes or till the cabbage is starting to get tender, about 60% cooked. Uncover in between to stir.
9. Add in salt to taste and red chilli powder. If you feel the cabbage is getting too dry, you may add in some more water. Mix well. Continue to cook covered on medium flame for 2-3 more minutes or till the cabbage is almost 80% done. Uncover and stir intermittently.
10. When about 80% done, add in jaggery powder, chana masala and finely chopped tomato. Sprinkle a bit of water if needed. Continue to cook covered for about 2 minutes more, on medium flame. The cabbage will get fully cooked and the tomato will get well incorporated into it.
11. If there’s any residual water remaining at this stage, cook uncovered on medium flame for a minute or so to dry it off. Switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Cabbage Masala is ready. Serve warm or at room temperature with rotis.
Is the Cabbage Masala vegan and gluten-free?
This recipe for Cabbage Masala is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.
It is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida. Simply skip the asafoetida to make it gluten-free. This is because most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.
The chana masala I have used here is vegan and gluten-free. In case you are using a store-bought spice mix, make sure it suits your dietary requirements.
Tips & Tricks
1. Chop the cabbage finely for best results.
2. Since we are using very little oil to cook this sabzi, it is important to keep the flame at medium throughout, to prevent burning. Check intermittently to see if there is enough water for the cabbage to cook. If the water has dried out at any stage, add in a little bit to prevent the cabbage from sticking to the bottom of the pan. At the same time, it is important not to add too much water – use just a little bit.
3. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, for best results.
4. You can use garam masala in place of the chana masala I have used here. I use chana masala because we love the flavour it adds to this dish. You could also use a mix of chana masala and garam masala.
5. Adjust the amount of salt, red chilli powder, jaggery powder and chana masala or garam masala as per personal taste preferences.
6. I would personally not recommend skipping the jaggery. It adds a beautiful taste to the Cabbage Masala.
7. You can make this sabzi extremely dry or keep it just a tiny bit watery. We prefer the latter.
8. I prefer using a tart ‘Nati‘ (country) tomato in this sabzi, rather than the ‘farmed’ version. The Nati tomato adds a whole lot more flavour to the dish.
9. Skip the onion, if you want to make this a no-onion, no-garlic dish.
10. You may add some curry leaves, slit green chillies and dry red chillies to the tempering, too. However, I don’t use them.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!