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Spice of Life

Alamelu Vairavan, a Whitefish Bay resident, is an author and culinary instructor. Alamelu has a passion for educating the public about the use of spices and legumes in preparing healthy and tasty foods. She is also interested in educating the public about the growing research that points to the enormous health benefits of spices in preventing many diseases. Her mission is to enrich people's culinary experience and to inspire them to discover that cooking and sharing healthful foods can be an especially joyful experience.

Visit Alamelu's web site, CurryOnWheels.com.

Flavorful Cabbage Dish for St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by preparing and serving corned beef and cabbage by the Irish. Although I am an Indian American, I consider myself partly Irish too. My daughter was born on St. Patrick’s day and she went to the University of Notre Dame for her undergraduate education. My husband did his Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame. So, that makes me an Irish mom and a Domer!

One of my favorite vegetables is cabbage. Cabbage is often served in the US in coleslaw, soup, or as sauerkraut. I would like to suggest an alternate way to prepare a flavorful cabbage dish that is inspired by Indian cooking.  Before we get to my easy-to-prepare dish, let us recognize some facts about cabbage and its health benefits.

Cabbage is inexpensive and available throughout the year. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable rich in Vit. K, C,dietary fiber, iron, manganese and Vit. B6. Cabbage promotes digestive health. Cabbage comes in various colors like green and red. Cabbage when stir-fried gives a nice crunchy texture and taste.

It is important to choose cabbage that is firm and crisp. Remove the thick leaves, clean and cut the cabbage. Cabbage can be shredded by hand (using cutting board and knife) or with food processor. When food processor is used to shred the cabbage, the cut is very fine and when cooked it becomes soggy and wilted. So, shredding the cabbage, by hand makes the cabbage fresh and crunchy. Here is a delicious way to cook cabbage…an Indian inspired cabbage dish for St. Patrick’s Day!

Cabbage is shredded and lightly cooked with cumin and garnished with coconut. So for all you out there making cabbage, let us toast to good health and prepare an aromatic, healthful cabbage stir-fry dish with coconut! Shall we?

Cabbage Poriyal with Coconut :

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 cup chopped onion

4 cups shredded cabbage

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 green chili pepper, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut powder (available at Outpost Natural Foods)

1. Place oil in a skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, but not smoking add cumin seeds.

2. Add onion and cook for a minute.

3. Add cabbage, ginger, chili, and salt and stir well. Cover and cook the cabbage until it is crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.

4.  Add coconut and stir-well. 

This stir-fry is a big hit even with kids and can be served as a side dish to any meal. It can also easily be mixed with one cup of cooked Basmati rice and can be made into “Cabbage Rice”. This cabbage dish can also be made into a “Cabbage Wrap”.  Happy St. Patrick’s day!

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