When eating a meal in Kerala, it won’t be long before you come in contact with something called thoran. A thoran is a category of dishes that can be prepared with almost any vegetable. It’s cooked with grated coconut, turmeric, mustard seeds, onions, chillies and curry leaves. Though the main vegetable can change depending on the season or region, these ingredients mostly stay the same. 

Cabbage Thoran is one of the most popular versions. Mildly spiced, bright and vibrant and cooked gently to retain the flavour of the vegetable without overwhelming it. Thoran is quintessentially Keralan and it’s a beloved comfort food for many people with roots in the state. 

During Onam – the harvest festival of Kerala – thoran is a cherished part of the Sadya, a meal with between 24-30 dishes prepared specially for the occasion and served on a banana leaf platter. But you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy the magic of thoran because as a recipe, it’s easy to throw together even on a busy night and is perfect to serve up with plain rotis or some rice. 

Ingredients:

Masala:

  • 120gm grated coconut
  • 1 tsp coarsely crushed cumin seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli

Thoran:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 800gm white cabbage finely shredded
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 mild dried red chilli halved
  • 100gms onion finely chopped
  • 12 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp coriander for garnish roughly chopped

Method

  • Start by making the masala by grinding all the masala ingredients in a blender with 100 ml of water until it forms a smooth paste. 
  • Roast the mustard seeds with a spoon of oil in a heavy pan on medium heat until they splutter.
  • Then add in the dried chilli and chopped onions. Fry for a minute and then add the curry leaves. 
  • Add some turmeric and stir well.
  • Finally add the cabbage and stir to coat it all in the masala mixture.
  • Cook it on a low heat with a lid until it begins to soften. 
  • When the cabbage is all cooked, add the coconut paste and then cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with more fried curry leaves, coriander and serve hot.