Cabbage and pea bhaji
This dish is meant to be comfort food with lockdown ingredients. However the way you cut and cook your vegetables especially the cabbage will make all the difference to this dish. Most people cook this dish down to a slush making it very unpalatable. You may not have peas with you in which you case you can use par boiled diced potatoes. These guys should be tiny and elegant. Alternatively you could also fry these potatoes and add them to the dish.
Cabbage – medium sized about a kilo
Peas – one large handful
Onion – one large, thinly sliced
Tomato- one large, chopped
Green chillies – two, minced
Mustard seeds – 1 and a 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Pepper powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Salt to taste
How to cut cabbage?
This is key to a great cabbage bhaji. Most people just cut the cabbage into half and then continue slicing it finely. This will leave you with uneven slices and you will constantly slice the rib of the cabbage. Technically, there is nothing wrong in this method for home cooking or in eating the rib of the cabbage. However, if you would like it to look nice and even taste better then I recommend you knock off the rib.
How do you knock off the rib of the cabbage ?
Turn the cabbage head down which means that you are faced with the central spine, the hard part of the cabbage. Now using your knife and in a circular motion cut of the Central spine. With, your hands ease out the leaves from the spine area. Do this gently and patiently. You might have to continually keep trimming the spine to ease out the leaves. The leaves in the middle are the hearts of cabbage which I use for the presentation of salads. They make for natural cups.
Having separated all the leaves place them one over the other, about four leaves at a time. With your knife cut off the central rib. Now roll the cabbage leaves and begin to slice the leaves very thinly.
In a LARGE pot allow about 5 tablespoons of oil to heat to smoking point. Drop in the mustard seeds and it will crackle like firecrackers. This is essential, if your oil is not hot the mustard seeds will not crackle, the flavours will not be released and you will end up with the bitterish taste.
Now add the onion and sweat it for about one minute, adding the green chillies and the tomato. Unlike other vegetable dishes this does not need to be cooked down. Quickly add the turmeric and salt and give this a stir for half a minute. Now add in the cabbage and peas. At this stage you need to be a bit quick. The cabbage and the peas need to be mixed well with the masala mixture for about half a minute. Keep folding or mixing the vegetable and the masala on high flame for another two minutes.
Turn off the gas, place a lid over and allow the cabbage to cook in its own heat for five minutes. After five minutes take off the lid stir the mixture once and add in the juice of half a lime, Stirring the vegetable once more. When you eat the cabbage it must be crispy to the bite and not limp on the tongue.
Tip for the non – vegetarians. When adding in the onions, try rendering down some bacon, about fifty grams. This will take the flavour to another level
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