Keyan Curried Cabbage
Here in Benin, you can either buy ridiculously expensive meats at the grocery store, or you can go to the market. The meat is sourced from the same places, but the market doesn’t have fridges and does have a lot of flies. The solution is to go early in the morning and either cook the meat as soon as you get home, or shove it in your freezer. Hassle hassle hassle. Usually we only eat meat on the weekends, when I have the time to buy it, prep it safely, and have planned ahead enough to create a dish that will last for several days.
Lucky for us, most West African cooking is based around sauces and soups served over a simple starch. Meat, fish, or wagasi are still part of most meals, but it’s served as an accent or side, instead of as the main dish. East African is similar, but has heavy Indian and Middle Eastern influences. While you almost never see curries here in Benin, they’re a frequent feature of Kenyan food.
When I saw this recipe for Kenyan Curried Cabbage a few months ago, I knew it’d make into our regular rotation. It’s simple, based on ingredients that are easy to source locally, and, most importantly, it’s vegetarian. It’s also strikingly similar to a few Beninese sauces, with the exception of how it’s spiced and thickened.
Changes from the original: 1) I don’t use curry powder. Ever. Garam marsala, cumin, and a bit of turmeric do the trick. You can substitute curry powder. 2) I added some Chicken Maggi (chicken broth cubes), and I use real chicken broth when I’ve got it. 3) The vegetarian recipe is below, but I bulk it up with chick peas, chicken, or beef.
Kenyan Curried Cabbage
- 1 large or 2 medium cabbages, chopped
- 3 large or 4-5 medium carrots, grated
- 2 red onions, sliced into wide chunks, then soaked in water for 15 minutes
- 1-2T vegetable oil
- 1c milk
- 2T flour
- 1 1/2t garam marsala
- 1t cumin
- dash of turmeric
- 1t salt
- cayenne pepper to taste
- Wash, peel, and chop vegetables.
- In a large pot or wok, heat 1T of oil. When hot, add onions and cook until translucent.
- Lower heat to low, add cabbage and carrots. Stir until cabbage starts to soften, then cover and cook until cabbage is soft, adding second tablespoon of oil if necessary.
- In a small bowl, mix flour, garam marsala, cumin, and turmeric. Slowly add 1/4c milk to make a slurry. Add slurry to cabbage mix and stir.
- Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
- Add remaining milk, stir, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve over rice.
Makes about 8 cups
Serving size: 1 cup | Calories: 91 | Fat: 3.7g | Carbs: 13.2g | Fiber: 3.4g | Protein: 3.1g