Cabbage is a wonderful vegetable in a salad. Many children and adults who do not eat the cooked vegetable end up loving it in this crunchy, tender salad. Lettuce was not available in India until recently, and is still not widely available. So cabbage is used in salads that are eaten in small portions, almost as a relish, along with the main meal. Here we have half-cup servings, which is a good portion for cabbage salad as a side in Western meals.
Indians do not have salad dressings in the same way as people in the West. Usually raw vegetables are tossed with salt, sugar (depends on vegetable), sometimes black pepper or red chili powder or minced green chili, and lime juice. A little oil may be drizzled or the oil may be tempered (tarka/vaghar) with mustard seeds. There is no oil in this recipe.
The salt and lime juice will make the cabbage crispy tender and moist. Shredding it fine is important to give it the delicate and light texture.
Note: Do not use cabbage that is very green in color. These cabbages are tough and fibrous and will not taste good raw. Look for a small cabbage head that is a pale yellow color and does not have much green on it. The leaves should also look more soft and tender (but crisp and fresh) than the tough green ones.
- 2 cups finely shredded yellow cabbage (remove tough outer leaves and veins)
- 2 medium-sized red tomato diced in quarter-inch chunks (use the seeds and juice)
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped (remove tough, woody stems)
- 1 lime
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar (prefer raw cane sugar or turbinado) or to taste and depends on how flavorful the tomatoes are
- 1 tiny pinch of hot red chili powder
- 1 tiny pinch asafoetida (optional)
- Put all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.
- Add the lime juice, salt, sugar, chili powder. Toss well. The salad can be eaten right away but the flavors do improve with a couple of hours chiling in the fridge before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. The salad will keep for a day in the fridge.
We enjoy this salad on our tacos instead of lettuce and tomatoes.
Serves 6. Preparation time: 15 minutes.