Friday, April 1, 2011
Kobi nu kachumber
A kachumber is a chopped vegetable salad, and if you search for recipes, you'll find many delicious-sounding ones online. In many Indian salads, what we would call dressing is called "tempering" because (I'm guessing) it's cooked and poured warm onto the salad as you'd add a tarka to a dal.
This lovely salad features red and white cabbage and hot green chili as the vegetable base. Shred this fine--I use the shredding blade of a food processor, put in a chunk of cabbage and don't press down, just let the weight of the lid and gravity create the finest possible shreds. As you probably know, raw shredded cabbage will keep for several days in a container, so I would make the whole recipe, but keep the vegetables and the tempering separate until just before I was ready to eat. This way, it's easy and painless to have salad for lunch at work, for instance.
Cabbage! Such a prosaic name for such a gorgeous and tasty vegetable. To make the tempering, place a little vegetable oil in a very very small pan. I have a tiny cast iron frying pan, about 3 inches in diameter, that I bought just to make tarkas in, and this is perfect. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds:
As soon as the seeds start to sputter, you add some tumeric, asafetida, cayenne, and curry leaves and fry for just a few seconds more:
Drizzle this mixture over the salad, then add crushed peanuts, coriander, and a little lemon juice. Salad heaven! As with so many dishes in which it is featured, in my opinion the curry leaves just make this dish. However, it's certainly very tasty without, and most of the recipes online don't include it as an ingredient.