The Musette: Cabbage Thoran

One of the benefits of being at home pretty much 24/7, is that my beloved has embraced more of my plant-based eating. This means overall I cook fewer dishes.

Yesterday’s fumble in the vegetable rack produced a sweet green cabbage and a small butternut squash. I decided to make a cabbage thoran or cabbage fry which is a dry vegetable dish from Kerala. Thoran is basically finely chopped or grated vegetables cooked with shallots, chilies, fresh grated coconut and spices. You can use a variety of other vegetables like beans, beetroot and spinach or, in my case, butternut squash.

I discovered that cabbage thoran is an important side dish in Kerala feast known as Sadya – I like making meals into feasts! Thoran is usually eaten with steamed rice, though we ate it as is.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side)

  • 1 (approx. 200g/8 oz) medium sized cabbage, finely shredded
  • 100g (4 oz) chopped butter-nut squash or potatoes
  • 1 medium sized onion or 4 to 5 shallots – finely chopped
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 50g (2 oz) freshly grated or unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • coriander leaves for garnishing (optional)


1. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a frying pan (skillet) then add mustard seeds and as they begin to pop, add the curry leaves and urad dal. Cook until the urad dal turns golden.

2. Add the onions and green chili and cook on high for a minute or so, then lower and continue to cook until the onion is soft and golden.

3. Add the turmeric, some salt, the cabbage and butter-nut squash (or potato). Cover and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, until both vegetables are cooked.

4. Stir in the coconut, sprinkle on some freshly coriander and serve with rice, flat-bread or just as it comes.

12 Comments on “The Musette: Cabbage Thoran

  1. I thought I knew a bit about Indian cuisine but II had never heard of thoran, live and learn. It looks very good, even for a committed carnivore like me!

    Liked by 1 person

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