Wednesday, February 17, 2010

BandhaKopir Tarkari -- a quick cabbage stir fry

For the better part of the last 7 days I have been home and so has the kids. That meant almost no computer time and no blog hopping either. Who would have the heart to keep sitting at the computer when the wireless mouse has been carried off by the little kitty ? And who would dare to open the laptop when one remembers what happened with endless plugging in and unplugging of the former ? The littlest one seems to have a penchant for doing everything that needs to be reprimanded with a big "NO" and then that doesn't stop her either, it just diverts her to doing the next.

By the time they went to bed it would be very late and the precious little me time I had there after, I spent reading Ruth Reichls' "Garlic and Sapphires", a charming read about her life as a food critic for New York Times, more precious because I could savor only a few pages each day. Something that she said in the first few pages of the book had struck a chord and remained with me.

"There is no right or wrong in matters of taste", she says " It's just a matter of opinion. And in the case of restaurants an extremely subjective one, given that no one has the faintest idea if what you taste when you bite into an apple is the same thing that I do." -- Ruth Reichl in Garlic and Sapphires

Isn't that true ? While I may praise the steamed Hilsa and prostate before it, you might find the pungent mustard smell disgusting. While you may be thinking Curd Rice is the ultimate in good food, I might think "blah" ! If we still narrow it down to two homes from the same region and same culture, I might think the cabbage dish with potatoes and spices that I have had since childhood is the only decent way to throttle the suffocating cabbage flavor you might say that the way cabbage was at your place, lightly spiced was the best.

When I had posted BandhaKopir Ghonto last time, a reader wrote in saying he had found the dish more spicy than he is used to. Perfect, that was his opinion. In the same post there was a comment by Eve's Lungs about a Bandhakopir Tarkari( a Cabbage Dish) done with the minimal of spices. I loved her recipe for its simplicity and yet was not sure if I could endure cabbage with so less to camouflage it's true nature. It turns out her cabbage dish is another favorite in Bengali Kitchen and my friend N vouched for it too.

So I went ahead and made it, I had little to lose, it was very simple to make anyway. The simplicity of this Cabbage dish floored us. To my utter disbelief, I loved it. The husband again said, this was like the cabbage dish from his neighborhood picnic. He had said the same thing about the BandhaKopir Ghonto, remember ?And I realized I have no idea what he is tasting when he is taking a bite of that cabbage and that a lot about what you are tasting has to do with the memory you are matching it up with.


Bandhakopir Tarkari -- a cabbage stir fry

What You Need

The Vegetables

Cabbage ~ about 6-7 cups chopped in shreds
Tomato ~ 1 whole chopped small


PaanchPhoron ~ 1 tsp
Dry Red Chili ~ 2-3 whole
Roasted Cumin Powder ~ 1/4 tsp (optional but good)
Red Chili Powder ~ 1/4 - 1/2 tsp according to taste

Salt ~ to taste

Oil ~ for cooking

How I Did It

Chop Cabbage in fine shreds. You can also use the packets of coleslaw. I had about 6-7 cups of shredded cabbage. Soak the chopped cabbage in water for 10-15 mins and wash well.

Heat Oil in a Kadhai/Saute pan

Temper the oil with 1 tsp of Paanch Phoron and 2-3 Dry Red chili

When the spices sputter add 1 whole juicy tomato chopped. Saute till tomato softens and has no raw smell

Add the cabbage, a little at a time. As you add the cabbage saute and fold in with the spices.

After you have added all the cabbage add salt and Red Chili Powder to taste, mix and cover. Intermittently take off the cover and saute. Covering and sauteing helps in cooking the cabbage faster and also requires less oil I think. You may need to sprinkle a little water while cooking or the cabbage will stick to the pan and char.

When the cabbage is almost done, add 1/4 tsp of Roasted Cumin Powder (dry roast whole cumin seeds and grind to fine powder) and mix.

Once the cabbage is done adjust for salt and seasonings. If you want you can add a little lime juice to the end.

Now for the extra crunch, I crushed about 1/4 cup of dry roasted peanuts and added them to the dish. This step is optional and NOT part of the traditional method. Note: This adding peanut thing is totally my idea and I liked it since of course it was my idea :). Add peanuts at your own risk.

Enjoy by itself or as a side dish with rice and dal for lunch


  1. I can understand how hard it must be with 2 young kids at home for you. Take care of yourself too.
    Cabbage stir fry is the best, I add greenpeas and grated carrots too for color. Adding peanuts sounds good too! :)

    Watched 3 Idiots at last. Paa next! :D

  2. I haven't been active either for the past week - but unfortunately not because I've been home - rather out of it a lot!

    I love love cabbage porial - steam cooked till just done with a light tempering of mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves and then finished with grated coconut....the yucky smell is never there and its feather light to eat! I will try this version too - i hate the cabbage when it is overcooked and all yellow with haldi - you're right, taste is so subjective!. I have been dying to read that book, but my library doesnt have it!

  3. Well in this case I agree with you, the cabbage looks delicious :) And it is the sort of thing I would love to eat with curd rice.

    I enjoyed that book too, it was a glimpse into a very different kind of job, being paid to go eat in restaurants day and night!

  4. I'll have to lay my hands on that book somehow, this is the second time you've mentioned it that I know of. I'm sure it won't be available in my library.

    My neighbours in the building are Oriyas and there is the most delicious mustard oil smell from their kitchen once in a while. Last night, I could smell it for hours through the night though their apt looked dark. Seventh heaven!

    Cabbage with peanuts is news to me :)

  5. Sra

    Updated the post with all nutty cautions after reading your comment :)


    I am yet to watch Paa. But did watch Avatar at last, loved it.
    My Mom adds carrots too but hers is a little diff with mustard seeds for tempering


    That I tell you is better :-)


    Ok now you have inspired me enough to try this with curd rice :)

    But did you see how many times she had to go back to the same restaurant and eat all that food again and again. It must have been nice to be one of her friends who went along :) All said, I love her style of writing

  6. I always wondered how people manage 2 kids! With only one when he is at home I always struggle with time , I imagine u with the little one :) Hope u re not digging the snow!
    My husb is huge fan of cabbage stir-fry! I do almost every week!

  7. Fantastic cabbage fry, looks awesome,loved the addition of peanuts...

  8. I make mine the similar way.. except for the roasted the addition of peanuts.the peanuts are going to be a treat for my kids. Have not been able to eat curd rice yet:-)... could not even get myself to try.

    Sandeepa, ilish niye eshe korlam. A was almost ready to run away from home.. LOL ebar oi ekta puro ilish amake khete hobe.

  9. hi,
    I enjoy such simple stir fries even more after being introduced to panch phoron in my kitchen shelf...peanut am sure would add an extra interest to the already interesting dish!
    Lovely presentation and clicks...tarkari looks more like some kinda dessert :)

  10. I agree with the statement and hence I started the series "I hat bitter gourd; You love bitter gourd". The body constitution plays a vital role in the taste testing and hence the same bite never tastes the same between two people! The cabbage stir fry combo is totally new as I am familiar with a tadka stir fry alone. and yeah I understand working with a computer amonngst two kids is the most challeneging one. My younger one when still young kept on pushing a reset button once and I almost had a heart attack!

  11. I like the minimalistic approach of Bengali recipes, not unlike our traditional tamil recipes while dealing with vegetables - i have all the ingredients for this one, will try out this week!

  12. this is the only Bong way I knew of to make cabbage:

    I shall try this with peanuts and tomato. Someone loves peanuts and cabbage!

  13. Hi.....
    Very interesting recipe & great clicks too.....
    Cabbage is one of my favourite so will def try this one..... adding tomatoes and peanuts for crunchy taste sounds good.....
    I must read Ruth Reichls' "Garlic and Sapphires", it sounds interesting read
    Can you clarify what exactly is
    Paanch Phoron?

  14. I have to agree with you on many points.
    I really do not like the smell/ taste of mustard oil. :( And I probably think that curd rice is the ultimate comfort food. :)

    But I do like cabbage cooked in any way. I even make kheer with it! But not the whilte stinky variety!
    Never added peanuts to my cabbge before. Nice idea, that.

  15. Lucky for me Sandeepa, DD2 is old enough not to fight over my wireless mouse but she wants one for herself :(

    Peanuts are a stroke of genius, they add that special something to even the mundane stir fry.

    Next time substitute an egg in place of the peanuts. The egglovers in the house think that is the best form of cabbage.

  16. Love your cabbage! And agree that we all have different tastes, especially so when it comes to spice levels.

  17. that's a cute age I admire, touching everything,discovering the reactions of the adults while doing these little lovable mischiefs, hihhih

    and you're so right about the opinions of each and every person about tastes!!!
    your cabbage fry sounds delicious, love the addition of roasted peanuts (though I am ME :) ) it changes from the usual grated coconut!! nice recipe!!

  18. laptops and kids don't go together!!
    u are right... cabbage for me is only palatable the way its made in my house..not even in other houses! :))

  19. 100% true there is no right or wrong in taste!!! Cabbage with tomatoes and peanuts are totally new to me... Havent had or made with this combo!!! Book marking this!!!

  20. Akdom aak my recipe to this. Except the peanuts. My ma insists on making this for me. Have you tried with chingri?? Good luck with kiddos. I struggle with one..........

  21. Hi Sandipa,

    bandhakopi looks gr8...i sometimes make it with Rui Machher Muro and love it :)..

  22. P.S i can't imagine how u manage with 2 cheeky lil ones...I go crazy after a whole day with just one running around :(...

  23. Cham

    Did the snow last week :) Two is fun, it is ok as long as I have some help




    My daughter loves curd rice and is all of a sudden hating Ilish with a vengeance. She keeps on rubbing Purell on her hands while we cook ilish !!!



    Thanks :)


    I like this theory about the body constitution deciding taste. Will read your series.

  24. Nandita

    Very true, most Bengali veggie dishes are very minimalistic and subtle

    That looks even simpler !!! Next time try the tomato and the Roasted Cumin powder if possible


    Paanch Phoron is a mix of five spices. Here is more read on it


    My Mom too made Rabri with cabbage a couple of times. It does taste very unlike cabbage and very tasty


    Doesn't eggs make everything more edible :)


    Not only spice level, also the sweetness, the sourness everything
    The challenge is to be more open and adventurous while eating


    Thanks :)


    You are strict, aren't you ;-)Strangely I make exceptions for non-veg, unless they are raw or rare I like them most ways.




    This one is now a regular at home too. Though back home , the ghonto was made more often

    Foodie Joint

    I love bandhakopi with muro or even with chingri

  25. Nice and light recipe...perfect with hot rotis ;)

    Have been reading your blog for quite sometime now, but never commented..stumbled on your blog when I was searching for bengali recipes because my husband is a bengali and I am from Delhi.

    Will keep coming for more as usual!


  26. Minus the chilli powder and the tomato, add some potatoes, and sometimes carrots and peas, and it's one of our favourite dishes. ( especially A's). I also add a pinch of sugar along with the salt. Love your addition of the peanuts,must remember that next time.

    Hugs to the sisters :-)

  27. In spite of the smell, I like cabbage at its simplest, with just a hint of chilli in it. I generally use green chillies and oh yes peanuts is a splendid idea, a definite addition to mine the next time!

  28. You know I've always wondered about that myself, whether the way a certain food tastes to someone is even remotely close to how it tastes to me. In fact I've even wondered about colors too.. Is my blue the same as your blue? I love Ruth Reichl's writing, gotta read Garlic & Sapphires.

  29. Ah, cabbage is sooooo tasty... lovely recipe :)

  30. Oh great - thanks for mentioning me :) Bhishon bhaalo lagey erokom bhabey khetey bandhakopi . I made it last week .Achha - chingri bandhakopir recipe ta kothaye ? amaar email id

  31. Is the owner of the Bong Mom Bengali?Doesn't look like.
    I am very sorry the recipes might be very tasty. But unfortunately though the name of the recipes are from Kolkata region I mean Bengali recipes but the method and ingredients doesn't sounds like the original authentic Bengali.
    For which Bengali's are famous.

    1. Yes I am. A human being first, then an Indian and finally definitely a Bengali :-) Any problems with that ? Thanks for your insightful comment.

    2. i think the owner of bongmom is a bong, may be an evolved one who can make the same 'bengali recipes' with easier methods n ingredients available outside india.... n d authenticity works absolutely fine for people like me, who r craving for some bengali dishes out of home.
      @ sandeepa: definitely, u r an indian.... n though i dont know u, ur blogs tell me dat u r a very gud human being :-)

    3. I wonder what she tasted when she read this post. And other beautifully written posts. Must be something really bitter. Sad.

      You go, BM! You're TEH awesome!

    4. Aww thank you so much Shilpi and didn't have to do this

    5. I totally agree wid u given that wen we do nt hv 'authentic' bengali ingredients as we reside outside d country .. Of course at d end of d day somebody like bongmom is a life saviour for a new- to-kitchen-mom like me.. N i cn say i come frm traditional bengali family though nt from 'kolkata region'

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. I so LOVE panch phoran.. Its even become my pic avatar for my blog!!, Need to try stir frying cabbage with panch phoran!

  33. perfect bandhakopi recipe..typical bangali ranna with panch phoron..sometimes for a extra nice twist I do add grated ginger, peas, potatoes and hing (asafoetida)...tastes really good...but never tried with peanuts..sounds good though

  34. Made this yesterday with my wife and it was so good! Added some panch phoron and also fried bori for the crunch factor. Thanks!


Thanks for your Comments. I hope you will be nice and not Spam.