Cabbage Thoran (Kerala-Style Stir-Fried Cabbage) Recipe

Grated coconut, turmeric, black mustard seeds, shallots, green chiles and curry leaves turn this simple cabbage dish into something special.


Why It Works

  • Cooking the aromatics and the spices in the oil first infuses it with flavor that is then transferred to the cabbage.

If your travels ever take you to the South Indian state of Kerala, or what is popularly called "God's Own Country," it won't be too long before you get acquainted with the delicious cabbage thoran.

Mildly spiced and brightly colored, cabbage thoran is one of those dishes that retain the delicate taste of the vegetable without drowning it in a host of spices and strong flavors.

A thoran is a type of dish that can be prepared with a variety of vegetables. The key ingredients—grated coconut, turmeric, black mustard seeds, shallots, green chiles, and curry leaves—remain the same. And the vegetables can be changed according to seasonality or your preference.

Each thoran uses the same basic ingredients and tastes nothing like the other. From jackfruit and raw papaya to green gram and banana stem, thorans are high on exotic charm and absolutely delicious.

I've always found their appearance calming. Not merely because it is comfort food but because the ingredients seem to sit together peacefully, minimally fussed over and not altered too much.

During Kerala's Onam festival, thoran is part of the Sadya, a feast of 24 to 28 dishes prepared specially for the occasion. But it's also a simple, everyday dish that's quick to throw together. Once you've got your hot infused oil, just add the shredded cabbage, cook until it's just tender with a crisp bite, then stir in the grated coconut. Ready in just a few minutes, it's best served with rice and daal or deep-fried puris.

Recipe Facts

Cook: 15 mins
Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)

  • 1 teaspoon (3g) black mustard seeds

  • 12 curry leaves

  • 3 small green chiles, halved lengthwise

  • 2 small shallots (65g), thinly sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 2 cups green cabbage (7 ounces; 200g), finely shredded on a mandoline or by hand

  • Kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup freshly grated coconut (3 ounces; 105g)


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mustard seeds, then immediately reduce heat to medium and add curry leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant about 15 seconds. Add chiles and stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

  2. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add turmeric and cumin, and stir vigorously to ensure the spices don't burn until the oil turns yellow, about 10 seconds.

  3. Add cabbage, season with salt, and cook, stirring, until just starting to wilt, about 1 minute. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is fully wilted, 7 to 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until any remaining liquid has evaporated.

  4. Stir in grated coconut until thoroughly combined, then remove from heat. Season to taste with salt. Serve right away with rice and daal, or puris (deep-fried bread).

Special Equipment

Large saucepan with lid

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
343 Calories
23g Fat
33g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 343
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 30%
Saturated Fat 20g 99%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 314mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 18g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 95mg 477%
Calcium 98mg 8%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 587mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)