Starters & Light meals

Fried cabbage with tomato curry

4 to 6
1 hour, plus 30 minutes’ marinating time
1 hour

While eating her way around SA for the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards, Mokgadi Itsweng was so impressed by a dish from Belly of the Beast that it inspired her to recreate her own version.

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  • For the tomato curry:
  • 3 T oil
  • 2 T Cape Malay curry spice
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 1⁄2 t fennel seeds
  • 1 T dried curry leaves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 t fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 x 400 g can, chopped tomatoes
  • 4 T tomato paste
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T tamarind pulp, dissolved in 1⁄2 cup hot water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For the salsa:
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 t pickled onions, chopped
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t honey
  • 1⁄4 t salt
  • For the fried cabbage:
  • 2 baby cabbages, quartered with the core holding the leaves together
  • 1 1⁄2 litres water
  • 1 t salt
  • For the batter:
  • 120 g flour
  • 1 T cornflour
  • 1 cup ice-cold sparkling water
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 ice cube
  • For the basmati rice foam:
  • 160 g cooked basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 T sunflower oil
  • To cook and garnish:
  • 1 cup sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 30 g crispy onions, for serving
  • 10 fresh curry leaves, sliced and deep fried
  • 20 g microgreens, for serving

1, To make the tomato curry, heat the oil in a pan then add the Cape Malay spice, cumin, fennel and curry leaves and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and tamarind water. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring continuously, adding a little water if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste; the sauce should be well-reduced and full of flavour. Set aside and keep warm.

2. To make the salsa, mix the tomatoes and onions. In a separate bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, honey and salt until well combined. Add the dressing to the tomato mixture. Marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

3. Place the cabbage in a wide bowl, with the leaves facing up. Bring the water and salt to a slow boil, then pour over the cabbage, making sure it’s completely submerged. Cover the bowl and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain, pat the cabbage dry using kitchen paper and set aside.

4. Mix all the batter ingredients until smooth and light. Add the ice cube to keep it cold.

5. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Check the temperature by dropping in a small bit of batter. If it floats and crisps up immediately, the oil is ready.

6. Dip the cabbage quarters into the batter, then gently tap off any excess and place in the oil. Fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon, then drain on kitchen paper. Set aside and keep warm in a low oven.

7. To make the rice foam, blend the rice and water until smooth. Remove from the blender and strain through muslin cloth, squeezing to remove the rice milk from the pulp. Keep the pulp for later use as a thickener for stews or sauces.

8. Place the rice milk and sunflower oil in a blender and blend at high speed until the milk is light and foamy.

9. To serve, place 2 T rice foam on the plate, then place 1 T tomato curry on top of the rice foam. Place the fried cabbage on top of the tomato curry, then the salsa next to the cabbage. Top with the onions, curry leaves and microgreens.

Find more cabbage recipes here.

Photograph: Jan Ras
Production: Bianca Strydom
Food assistant: Raymand Buitendag

Mokgadi Itsweng

Recipe by: Mokgadi Itsweng

Former food editor of True Love magazine, Mokgadi has worked in the food industry for more than 17 years and is the author of Veggielicious – a collection of plant-forward recipes that’ll encourage even the pickiest eater to eat more veg. She is the Creative Director and head chef for Lotsha Home Foods and a member of The Chef’s Manifesto.

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