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Asafoetida lends itself best to saucy dishes and is often paired with cumin. This is a tomato gravy that takes well to stewing cauliflower and potatoes, but in this case is a last-minute sauce for fried cabbage dumplings. Asafoetida's not the star here, but it's a valuable addition. If you're looking for more South Indian recipes, you can't do much better than the source of this one, Manjula's Kitchen. The site is full of recipes and instructional videos narrated by a woman I wish was around when I was growing up.

Adapted from Manjula's Kitchen.

Cooking with Asafoetida: Tomato Gravy and Cabbage Koftas

About This Recipe

Yield:3 to 4
This recipe appears in: Spice Hunting: Asafoetida (Hing)


  • Ingredients for Tomato Gravy
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes or 1 15-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped and seeded if you like
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 or 2 pinches of asafoetida
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of chickpea flour (all-purpose flour also works well)
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander, toasted and freshly ground
  • 1/4 to 1 cup of milk, cream, yogurt, or coconut milk (to be added incrementally to taste)
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Sugar, to taste, if you like
  • Ingredients for Cabbage Koftas:
  • 4 cups of shredded green cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups of chickpea flour, as needed
  • 1 pinch of cumin seeds
  • 1 large pinch of chopped cilantro
  • 1 inch of ginger, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced and seeded if you like
  • 2 quarts of neutral oil, for frying


  1. 1

    Procedure for Tomato Gravy:

  2. 2

    Blend the tomatoes, ginger, and jalapeño until smooth.

  3. 3

    In a high-sided pan, heat the oil to medium-high heat. You'll know the oil's hot enough when a cumin seed crackles instantly.

  4. 4

    Add the asafoetida, and after a few seconds, the cumin. When the crackling dies down, add the flour (to form a roux of sorts) and stir till thickened.

  5. 5

    Pour in the tomato purée and stir in the coriander. Expect some splattering. Turn the heat to low.

  6. 6

    Pour in about a cup of water and let the sauce cook down for a few minutes. Taste to add salt and sugar, if you like. You want it a little spicier and sharper than you'd like the end result.

  7. 7

    Now add the milk, cream, yogurt, or coconut milk a little at a time, until you're happy with the texture and flavor. Toss in some fresh cilantro before serving. Use this gravy to stew potatoes and cauliflower, or the koftas below.

  8. 8

    Procedure for Cabbage Koftas:

  9. 9

    In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with a couple teaspoons of salt and the spices, ginger, and jalapeño. Once it's started to release some liquid, add just enough chickpea flour to make a workable mush from which you can form golf ball-sized spheres.

  10. 10

    Heat the oil on high heat. Add a pinch of the cabbage mush. It should have a lively sizzle.

  11. 11

    Fry the koftas, two or three at a time, till a dark brown. They'll probably sink to the bottom at first; give them a couple seconds to firm up before you scrape them off the bottom, otherwise they might crumble. If this is your first time deep frying with chickpea flour batter, go against your instincts and fry the koftas past the usual "golden, brown, and delicious." The longer they cook the more pleasantly crispy they become.

  12. 12

    Drain the koftas well on paper towels, then add them to the warm gravy a couple minutes before serving. Serve immediately.


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