I had the huge privilege of being Madhur Jaffrey’s producer and editor on her first Indian cookery series for the BBC. For all her eminence and erudition, she was a joy: no ego, ever gracious. I’d always loved Indian food since meeting it for the first time as a student. Now it was like having my personal tutor on how to make it. I tested literally everything in that book and it encouraged me to make my own experiments. This spiced cabbage has been popular even with fussy eaters who say they don’t like ‘hot’ food – no surprise, as there’s nothing truly ‘hot’ in it. This dish will bring a zingy taste to contrast with classic favourites such as a roast chicken, fish pie or cottage pie. A pointed cabbage is the easiest to prepare but any cabbage will do, though cooking times may vary a little. If you are using spring greens, roll them up into cigar shapes first to make slicing easier.
Half a pointed spring cabbage
2 spring onions
2cm knob of fresh ginger or ¼ teaspoon of powdered ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
100 ml water
Slice the cabbage as finely as possible. Scissor the spring onions into shreds. Peel and grate the ginger. Heat a little oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir fry the spring onion, ginger and garlic for about 2 minutes then add the mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric, salt and sugar. Reduce the heat and stir fry for another minute. Add a little more oil to the pan. Add the sliced cabbage and stir fry on a moderate heat for about 2 minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt. Add the water. Raise the heat. Keep stirring to prevent burning until all the water has evaporated (about 2 minutes). Serve immediately.