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
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