Quick Indian Cabbage Salad Recipe

Quick Indian Cabbage Salad on a banana leaf with half a lime.
Prasanna Sankhe

This salad of crisp cabbage, carrots, and coconut is one of those Indian dishes that takes minimal effort, doesn't involve a whole range of spices, and is ready in minutes. Dressed in an infused oil, it's the perfect side dish for a meal of rice and chicken, like Kerala-Style Chicken Curry, Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala, or Chicken Tikka Masala. With grilling season kicking in, the salad would also make a great accompaniment to any number of grilled dishes, especially kebabs. Think of it as a slaw.

At its simplest, the dressing calls for olive oil in which you've cooked down some mustard seeds, serrano chili, and curry leaves, but you can also use a more flavorful oil like mustard, sesame, or coconut if you'd like. Crushed roasted peanuts, lime juice, and a touch of sugar round out the flavors. Leftovers make a great filling for a sandwich—just add a few boiled, sliced potatoes, stuff it into some bread, and you've got lunch.

Why this recipe works:

  • Unlike many Indian dishes, this one requires minimal ingredients, and comes together in just about 10 minutes.
  • Infusing the oil with spices brings flavor to the dish that coats every ingredient.

Notes: For a different flavor, substitute mustard seed, coconut, or sesame oil in place of the olive oil. To crush peanuts, pound gently in a mortar and pestle or crush by pressing under a skillet.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 Serrano chilli slit lengthwise
  • 5 to 6 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 small head cabbage, finely chopped or grated on the large hole of a box grater
  • 1 medium carrot, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 tablespoons roasted and coarsely ground peanuts (see note)
  • I tablespoon lime juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated coconut flesh
  • Kosher salt


  1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Step back and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Add the Serrano chilli and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add curry leaves (if using) and allow them to sputter, about 30 seconds. Transfer infused oil to a small bowl to cool.

  2. Mix grated cabbage, carrot, peanuts, lime juice, sugar, and grated coconut flesh in a large bowl. Add the cooled oil to the mixture and toss. Season to taste with salt. Serve.

Special equipment

Mortar and pestle, non-stick skillet, Mixing bowl, food processor