This is a curry recipe with cabbage, and before you x out of this page, let me just say it’s neither smelly nor stringy. I must admit I was slightly scared of cooking cabbage; coleslaw is great, but I’m not a big bubble and squeak fan, so my main experience with cooked cabbage has been bland, smelly and limp. That being said, cabbage is really good for you, and I’m always trying to find new ways of forcing veg ingestion upon my children, so when they turned their noses up at coleslaw, I thought I’d trick them into the rest of the slaw. I bought a big bag of pre-shredded cabbage and carrot that you’re meant to add dressing to for coleslaw, but it ended up helping create to most delicious curry.
My daughter is my biggest food critic, but she’s also my biggest fan if I make lentils for dinner. At 4 years old, she’s determined to polish off any vegetarian meal I make, convincing me she’s going to refuse meat any day now. As long as I have a half an hour to allow the lentils to soften, I’ll make this type of dish for lunch or dinner. This particular recipe took about 45 minutes from start to finish, but I was faffing a bit. The depth of flavour that the spices and cabbage add are gorgeous – sweet and savoury, and a little bit creamy. I hope you’ll give it a try, even if you don’t think you like cabbage, because I was surprised by how sweet and tender it was in this curry.
- 1 tablespoon veg oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup crushed or diced tomato (tinned is easiest)
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon dried cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup dried red lentils (rinsed well)
- 2–3 cups shredded cabbage (I used a coleslaw pre-shred with a bit of carrot)
- 1 cup chopped coriander/cilantro (I use my scissors and just snip into the pot)
- ½ teaspoon chicken (or veg) stock concentrate, or 1 dried cube
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4–6 cups of water to cover and periodically top up until the lentils are softened
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
First things first: find a wide, deep pan and add the butter and oil over a medium-high heat.
Once the butter is melted and the oil is warm, add your dry spices and give them a quick stir before adding the tomato and incorporating into the oil and spices. This will allow the spices to lightly fry without burning, and the tomato to reduce.
Add the chicken stock concentrate or cube and mix it into the tomato and spices; you’ll add water later, so don’t worry if it’s not fully mixed in.
Ensuring you’ve thoroughly rinsed the dried lentils, add these to the tomato mix and stir well.
Cover the lentil mixture with the shredded cabbage and add about 1 cup of your water. I find keeping a full kettle on hand the easiest for eyeballing the water additions. Reduce the heat to a medium-low while covered to save scorching the bottom.
Keep the cabbage on top without stirring it in and just cover it for about five minutes. This gives you the perfect chance to start your rice, or pull out the pita or naan for serving. I usually cook jasmine rice with chicken stock and a little garlic and herb spice, but that’s just because I like my rice to have flavour of its own.
Once the cabbage has wilted, and created some of its own water, give it a good stir to incorporate the lentils and check the water level.
Sprinkle in the brown sugar and add the coriander, and mix into the curry before adding about 2–3 cups of water, or enough to cover the mixture.
Incorporate the water before covering and allowing to simmer on medium-low heat for another 10–15 minutes. The cabbage will continue to reduce as the lentils soften, so you shouldn’t need more water, but keep an eye on your creation.
Once you’re satisfied with the tenderness of your lentils, reduce to low (or switch off the heat if you’re serving straight away) and add the Greek yogurt. This will mellow the spices and add creaminess to the curry.
Serve this over rice, or with toasted pita or naan bread. Add a splash of lemon juice to your serving for a citrus burst and enjoy!