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
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.