Keralan Cabbage Thoran

Southern Indian Cabbage with coconut, curry leaves and chilli

Keralan Cabbage Thoran (3)

Happy New Year to everyone and here’s to a brilliant 2016 that is filled with delicious Indian food. Much of the coming year for me is going to be about exciting projects, travel and plenty more cooking. I can’t wait to share it all here. I also recently wrote about the food trends in the new year and how we are steering more towards spices and the abundance of seasonal vegetables.

January for me means comfort and that’s exactly what I crave; a hearty meal with flavour and balance. Indian food offers just that alongside versatile recipes that are quick to rustle up especially for a mid week meal. A keralan thoran is one of my favorites and often made not just at home but also for cheffing events I’m cooking at. The best part is that you can use any veg you like.I normally opt for beetroot which gives a vibrant colour and flavour although the more classic option in most Keralan homes and at a traditional communal vegetarian feast (Sadya) is cabbage. The humble cabbage is coated in spices, curry leaves and coconut. This dish is cooked without any additional water so the cabbage cooks in its own steam still having a bite to it and not completely wilted. A brilliant accompaniment that is eaten with rice and curries.

In my recipe I use fresh grated coconut which is available from most stores frozen. You can swap it for desiccated coconut although you will need a little more water when you blend it to a paste. You can also use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil which I think will be delicious.

Serve with rice and tadka dal or even with some flaky paratha.


  1. Add the paste ingredients to a blender with 100 mls water and blitz to a smooth fine paste. Set aside.

  2. Heat a large heavy bottom saucepan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds letting them splutter for 3-5 seconds. Add the dried chilli and follow by the chopped onions. Stir and fry for a 1minute. Now add half the curry leaves and continue to fry for 5 minutes as the onions begin to soften.

  3. Add the turmeric powder and stir well. Add the shredded cabbage a little at a time, season to taste and mix to coat it with the spice mix.

    Keralan Cabbage Thoran


  4. Cook the cabbage over a low heat with a lid on. Make sure to stir halfway through the cooking.

  5. Now add the coconut paste and continue to cook for 2 minutes with a lid on. Turn the heat off and garnish with the remaining curry leaves and fresh coriander