One of the many joys of seasonal cooking is embracing doing the best with what you’ve got. Such is my journey with purple cabbage. I don’t give it much thought at all. I look at it and immediately think cole slaw. But Sarment, one of the farmers I visit every week knowing everything he grows is delicious, had several adorable little purple cabbages a few weeks ago. He also had gorgeous Swiss chard and the usual divine sweet potatoes. These items came home with me and became the inspiration for this dish.
I have been making this regularly and eating it with a side of Greek yogurt as lunch. It’s lovely to look at, and the purple cabbage retains its color and crunch to balance against the gently wilted chard and creamy sweet potatoes. Everyone, especially children, are always interested in this dish. It’s appealing.
I have used an Indian spice mix here as it is round in taste, flavorful, mild and compliments the vegetables. It’s a particularly good complement to cabbage. Traditionally used in the Indian state of Bengal, panch (five) phoran (whole spice) is a mix containing fennel, nigella(onion seeds), mustard, fenugreek and cumin. It is used in a old vegetable dish popular in Bengali households called chachori, where no part of any vegetable is wasted. This tradition is being slowly lost in favor of more sophisticated foods, but it’s too delicious not to rescue. You can also use coriander in place of the cumin. You can make your own (equal parts of each) or buy it online. Spices have medicinal and health properties that have been studied in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. This blend contains spices that act as anti-oxidants and are believed to reduce inflammation.
Something this beautiful, easy and delicious makes cooking a delight. Serve it as a side dish, eat with a piece of bread, a small bowl of rice, or with yogurt (like me). I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
RECIPE: Tricolor Vegetables with Bengali 5 Spice
- 2 tsp panch phoran
- 1 Tsp expeller pressed canola
- 3C chopped sweet potatoes
- 3C chopped purple cabbage
- 1 C chopped Chard stems
- 4C chopped Chard leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne (more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- Heat spices in the pan slowly with oil until the mustard seeds just start to pop.
- Add the sweet potatoes and remaining spices and sauté for 2-3 minutes, covering occasionally.
- Add the cabbage, toss, and cook covered for 3-4 minutes.
- Add chard stems and cook covered 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chard leaves and toss to gently wilt.
Adjust seasonings and enjoy. Serves 4.