A simple, mellow, satvik side dish for rice/roti. It gets done in the time to make a rice and a rasam. And, I promise, you will not smell the trademark cabbage smell. This pairs really great with sambar/rice, or rasam/rice. In my family, we grew up eating most vegetables mixed with plain rice for a starter, with a little drizzle of ghee. This dish provides the good fat from the coconut, and the supposedly cancer-fighting properties of the cabbage.
Thaw the frozen coconut if using, for about 30 minutes. I keep it out before I start the chopping
Gather the seasoning ingredients
Shred the cabbage after removing the tough outer leaves, into thin small strips;
I typically give the shredded cabbage a good rinse, and the water that remains after the rinse is all that's needed to cook it. Too much water is the most common rookie mistake when cooking cabbage, which makes it wilty and smelly.
Chop the green chilies, if using. I prefer green chilies for this dish, but you may substitute with red chilies
Heat oil in a kadai/vaanali; Crackle the mustard seeds, add the hing, urad, and the curry leaves.
If using red chilies, add them at this stage
Add the cabbage, green chilies, salt and mix it all up
Now reduce the heat slightly, cover with a lid, and cook for about 4 minutes
After 4 minutes, open the lid, and check for doneness. If the cabbage is tender (which means there is more water content and it hasn't dried up), it'd be almost done now, but still a bit raw. Cover it and cook for 4 more minutes if it still looks/feels undercooked/raw
After 4 minutes, check again. A good cabbage should be cooked - not wilted, but cooked and still retain a bite. If you try to cut it, there should be a slight resistance.
Add the coconut, turn the heat off. Mix the coconut, and let it rest for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.
Adding water while cooking cabbage is the mistake most rookies make. This overcooks the cabbage, the nutrients are lost in the water you will need to discard, and the dish doesn't smell good.
The trick to sprightly, unwilted cabbage is to cook it in the moisture of the rinse, with the steam from the closed lid, and for the shortest time possible
Good tender cabbage will reduce in volume by almost half after cooking as it loses its water content in cooking
This dish is very mellow with the least spices, and the addition of the coconut, and is fantastic with rasam. You might even completely forego the chilies and it'd still taste delicious.