Five-Spice Cabbage Salad
Five-Spice Cabbage Salad

Five-Spice Cabbage Salad

The Five-Spices mentioned in the title of this recipe has nothing to do with the 5-Spice Blend in Chinese cuisine that most people have heard about, rather, it means the five-spice blend from Bengal known as ‘Panch Phoron’. The recipe itself is not actually Indian in origin, and actually represents a fusion of cookery techniques, but it is still very much Bengali in spirit. It Is easy to put together, and makes a great accompaniment for Tandoori-style dishes, or at any meal featuring a selection of curries.


By the way, if you are unfamiliar with Panch Phoron, it is a blend of whole spices, very commonly consisting of Fenugreek Seed, Nigella, Cumin Seed, Black Mustard Seed and Fennel Seed. It is easily available on-line, or in Indian, or Asian Grocery Stores, or you can easily make up your own blend. There are variations on the above blend, of course, and, for this recipe, I have replaced the Black Mustard Seed with Celery Seed.

The Basic Method

Salting the Cabbage
Salting the Cabbage

First, toss the cabbage shreds with the salt and leave to soften and wilt for at least an hour. You will notice that the shreds will throw off a fair amount of liquid during this process.

The Wilted Cabbage Rinsed and Squeezed
The Wilted Cabbage Rinsed and Squeezed

When you are ready, rinse the cabbage several times in lots of water to wash away the excess salt and then squeeze dry. As you can see, the volume of the cabbage is much decreased at this point. Make sure you ‘fluff’ it up before the next step.

Heating the Spice Blend in Oil
Heating the Spice Blend in Oil

Bring the oil to the smoking point over a high flame and then add the Panch Phoron. As soon as the seed begin to sputter and pop, throw in the chilies and stir until they begin to darken. Be careful as they can burn very quickly and will continue to cook after you take the pan from the flame so do so just at the point that they are noticeably beginning to brown. The oil and spice blend that results is the or ‘Tempering’ for the Cabbage.

Finishing the Five-Spice Cabbage Salad
Finishing the Five-Spice Cabbage Salad

Finally, pour the tempering mixture over the cabbage shreds (watch out as can spit) and then add the lemon juice, tossing well. Allow to cool and then serve at room temperature.


Your Recipe Card:

Five-Spice Cabbage Salad

This Five-Spice Cabbage Salad uses the Bengali Spice Blend, Panch Phoron, and makes a terrific accompaniment for Tandoori dishes, or fiery Curries.
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Bengali, Indian
Keyword: Cabbage, Chili, Lemon Juice, Panch Phoron
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely shredded Cabbage;
  • 1 ½ tbsp. coarse Salt;
  • 1 tsp. Panch Phoron;
  • 8 small dried red Chilies;
  • 3 tbsp. Vegetable Oil.
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice.

Instructions

  • Toss the Cabbage shreds with the salt and leave to soften and wilt for at least an hour.
  • Once softened, rinse the Cabbage several times in lots of water to wash away the excess salt and then squeeze dry.
  • Bring the oil to the smoking point over a high flame and then add the Panch Phoron.
  • When the Panch Phoron seeds begin to pop, add the Chillies, stirring briskly, and immediately remove the pan from the heat once they begin to visibly darken.
  • Pour the oil and spices over the wilted Cabbage and then add the Lemon Juice, tossing well.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature and then serve.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!