Zesty with Coconut
Brightened with the flavors of South India and especially Kerala, this quick and easy cabbage salad has mustard seeds, coconut, and lime. It makes a lovely change of pace from the usual mayonnaise-based American coleslaw. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but sometimes you need to change things up.
Make this recipe your own by using a mix of vegetables, but make sure to end up with 4 cups total. I’ve used a mix of red and white cabbage and added sweetness and color with a cup of shredded carrots. Napa or savoy cabbage or even some shredded broccoli would be perfect too. I love a good shortcut, and buying pre-shredded cabbage is a good one. The mustard seeds get a pop in hot oil along with fresh curry leaves, if you can find them. If not, take the lime you are using for juice and zest it. The flavor of lime zest is a good stand-in for curry leaves.
Indian-ish Cabbage Salad
I use this cabbage salad to brighten and add crunch to my favorite Indian-ish turkey burger or eat alongside anything else I have on the menu. My latest pairing was with my Kerala fried chicken. It is also a fresh and vibrant side to steamed fish, grilled steak, or even a bowl of nutty, aromatic basmati rice. Spiced kebabs would also feel quite special with a helping of this coconut cabbage salad on the side.
See the Notes below before you cook.
Indian-ish Coconut Cabbage Salad
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil ~ Or oil of your choice
- 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds ~ Yellow will also work
- 2 small Indian green chilies ~ Or one Serrano minced, substitutions
- 10 curry leaves ~ Optional, coarsely chopped
- 4 cups green or red cabbage ~ Thinly slice, see Notes below
- 1 cup carrot ~ Grated, optional. Reduce the cabbage by 1 cup
- 1/4 cup peanut ~ Coarsely chopped
- 1 tablepoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh coconut ~ Grated or 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Substitutions
- Gather all your ingredients.
- In a small skillet over medium-high heat add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop and splutter. Add the minced green chili and the curry leaves, if using. Heat through stirring for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove pan from the heat and transfer to a small bowl to cool
- Combine the vegetables you are using with the lime juice, sugar, and coconut in a large bowl. Add the cooled flavored oil and stir to combine. Taste for salt, acid, and heat. If you need a bit more spice, add a pinch of red Kashmiri chili or cayenne.
- Spoon into a pretty bowl for serving.
- This cabbage salad works well as a cooked vegetable. After cooking the chili and curry leaves (if using), add another tablespoon of coconut oil and stir in the cabbage. Cook until the cabbage is the texture you prefer. This can be from a quick sauté to just wilted or cook the cabbage until quite soft and tender. Remove from the heat and add grated carrots if you are using.
- Instead of peanuts use cashews or slivered, flaked or chopped almonds. Or leave out the nuts all together. Instead of chopping the nuts, give them a couple of good bashes in a mortar and pestle.
- Shortcut: buy precut cabbage and/or carrot.