This is the dish that will turn you into a cabbage lover. A Sri Lankan cabbage mallung is the only way to make cabbage taste delicious and experience a cabbage conversion.
I remember having cabbage at school. School dinner cabbage was limp, pale, mushy, smelt like dirty laundry. There was no way I was having cabbage on my plate.
But at home, my mother had a way of transforming cabbage. With a few spices, a flick of the wrist, she’d stir fry her cabbage until it was crisp and golden and retained its crunch. I’d pile my plate high and munch my way through mounds of cabbage.
How did she do it? What did she do? How did she make this Sri Lankan recipe for cabbage mallung?
Well my friends I have it here.
There are just a few things you need to have at hand to transform your cabbage to make it crisp, golden and delicious.
What spices do you use in a cabbage mallung?
I always use whole cumin and mustard seeds when I make my mallung.
Curry leaves, fresh or dried?
Curry leaves are an essential part of Sri Lankan cooking. I’m liberal with my use of them. Scatter a sprig of leaves into your frying pan at the same time as your whole spices and chilli.
You can use either fresh or dried. My preference is for fresh curry leaves. You can find curry leaves in larger supermarkets, Asian grocery stores or online retailers such as Red Rickshaw or Spice Kitchen.
Chilli, make this dish as hot as you like
Yes, you can have chilli, as much or as little as you like. A fresh green chilli deseeded and sliced, or a dried, crushed red chilli. Both are fine. Whatever you have to hand.
The onions hold the flavour
This will form the basis of the flavour of the dish, don’t rush cooking your onions. Cook the onions slowly on a low heat until they are soft, sweet and translucent.
Give your cabbage mallung a golden hue with turmeric
I add a touch of turmeric to my cabbage mallung, not so much for flavour but to add a flash of yellow to the dish.
Maldive fish, great for flavour and purely optional
Many Sri Lankan recipes for vegetable side dishes will have Maldive fish. So this recipe isn’t strictly vegetarian or vegan. And let me qualify, using Maldive fish is purely optional. If you can’t find it or simply don’t want to use it, then leave the Maldive fish out.
Maldive fish is a typical Sri Lankan ingredient, essentially dried tuna, and gives dishes that umami flavour. You can find Maldive fish in Indian grocery stores or order online.
Maldive fish is used as a flavour enhancer or a thickening agent in many Sri Lankan recipes. It has a similar flavour profile to dried shrimps. I tend to use it when I temper my spices to extract the flavour.
Coconut and lime will bring out the flavour of your cabbage mallung
I call this the final flourish, it’s the finishing touches. Lime and coconut are key ingredients in Sri Lankan cooking, it’s a pairing that’s made in heaven. Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of coconut towards the final stages of cooking, let the coconut cook until it’s toasty brown, then finish off with a squeeze of lime which simply elevates the flavours of this simple dish.
Do I need to use fresh coconut?
This Sri Lankan vegetable curry recipe is really easy to make. Cabbage mallung is a recipe for stir fried cabbage that really transforms the humble cabbage. I serve this as a side dish to accompany rice and curries. This recipe works well with lamb.
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped or one dried crushed red chilli
- 1 tbsp Maldive fish (optional)
- A generous helping of curry leaves (around 10 -12)
- 1 onion sliced
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 400g cabbage finely sliced
- 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
- Juice of a fresh lime
- Heat the oil in a solid-based frying pan.
- Add the whole spices, the Maldive fish, curry leaves and chill, heat until the spices start to crackle.
- Add the onion and turmeric and cook until they are soft and transparent. Stir so the turmeric evenly coats the onion.
- Now add the cabbage. Cook the cabbage until it’s soft. Keep stirring and tossing for the spices and onion to be fully incorporated into the cabbage.
- Finally, add the coconut and chilli. Again stir through, and cook until the coconut just starts to turn golden.
- Finish off with a squeeze of lime and serve with rice and any curry of your choice.
Keywords: Sri Lankan vegetable curry, cabbage mallung, stir fried cabbage