Spicing It Up

For the past few months, I’ve had a craving for Indian cuisine that has yet to be satisfied. That is, until I came across this clever little cookbook called One Spice, Two Spice by Floyd Cardoz, chef and former co-owner of New York City’s Tabla restaurant. Tabla is no longer open so the only way to experience Cardoz’s great recipes is through this cookbook.

Now as you may have come to learn over the past few months, I’m not exactly Julia Child in the kitchen, but one great thing I noticed about this cookbook is that Cardoz fuses both American and Indian culture to create realistic dishes that even a novice like me can grasp. So armed with my new cookbook, I decided to try my hand at making the Braised Cabbage dish.

I woke up early on Sunday morning ready to start my latest cooking quest. With shopping list in hand, I headed out to my local supermarket to grab the ingredients. After 15 minutes of scouring the shelves and interrogating the stock boy, I was disappointed to learn that the store didn’t carry two of the ingredients on my list, brown mustard seeds and green chile. But as all good cooks must come to learn sooner or later, sometimes substitution is just the only way. I decided to replace the mustard seeds with mustard powder, but unfortunately I couldn’t think of anything that would work to replace the authentic flavor of a green chile.

In the end the dish turned out pretty well considering, but I could definitely tell that something was missing.  I think having the chile would have given it that extra pop. Until making this recipe I had never even considered the fact that you could braise a cabbage. Growing up we ate cabbage one way–simmered down in a pot with seasoning salt and pepper, not particularly exciting, but tasty nonetheless. Braising was pretty simple and it gave each chunk of cabbage a caramelized coating.  The mixture of spices, tomato chunks, and chicken broth helped to create a delicious sauce that we drizzled over rice.

Braised Cabbage from One Spice, Two Spice
Serves 6

This preparation, bright with chile and ginger, is simple. Try it with pork.

  • 1½ pounds Savoy cabbage (about ½ large head)
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons julienne strips peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced mild to moderately hot fresh green chile
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomato
  • 1½ cups Chicken Stock (page 274) or reduced- sodium canned chicken broth
  • Two 4-inch thyme sprigs
  • One 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • Kosher salt

Cut the cabbage into 6 wedges, leaving most of the core intact to hold each wedge together during the braising. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a wide heavy 6- to 8-quart pot over moderate heat until it shimmers. Add the cabbage and sear until lightly caramelized, turning once with tongs, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in the (uncleaned) pot over moderately low heat until it shimmers. Add the cloves, mustard seeds, curry leaves, bay leaf, shallot, and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ginger, chile, tomato, stock, thyme, rosemary, and salt to taste.

Bring to a boil and add the cabbage, tightly fitting it together in the bottom of the pot. Braise the cabbage, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes, turning it over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the cloves, curry leaf stems, and bay leaf before serving.

Bon appétit.

2 Responses to “Spicing It Up”
  1. I did my first braised cabbage dish for St. Pats and it will be a staple in the house. I love the idea of trying this recipe – and I’m a spice-a-holic so I already have the brown mustard seeds in the pantry due to a quasi brilliant idea to try to make my own mustard (which I have yet to try to do).

    • Anonymous says:

      It was pretty easy to make and my family really enjoyed it. I think I’m going to try the scallop dish next. Where did you find your mustard seeds?

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