Red Cabbage and Peas with Cumin and Mustard Seeds

by on January 24, 2009
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Red Cabbage and Peas with Cumin and Mustard SeedsIn the middle of January, the pickings get mighty slim if you’re trying to live only on fruits and vegetables that are in season. Though I’m far from being a locavore, I do try to focus my cooking around produce that’s naturally in season, not shipped from another hemisphere where the weather is the opposite of mine. So no matter how tempted I may be to buy a mango and see if I can get it to ripen on my kitchen counter, in the winter I stick to oranges that I’ve picked myself from my parents’ trees and apples that have done a little traveling to get to Mississippi but are still, to my mind, almost in season.

While fruit choices are limited at this time of year, the prospects of finding in-season vegetables are much sunnier. In fact, one of the healthiest food groups is a cold-weather crop: Greens. Kale, collards, bok choy, chard, and cabbage are nutritional champs, high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and, in the case of kale, high quality protein. It’s the lowly cabbage, though, that comes out the winner in economics as well as nutrition. You can find green cabbage in virtually any grocery store at a price that makes it one of the bargains of the produce section. Personally, I like to pay a little more and get the red cabbage, not just because it’s marginally more nutritious but also because I think it’s pretty.

A few days ago I was making Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran and needed a side dish. While paging through the great cookbook that is the internet, I found just what I was looking for at Manjula’s Kitchen. If you haven’t seen Manjula’s videos or recipes, go there now and check them out, but be prepared to come away hungry. Her recipe for Cabbage with Peas (Bund Gobi and Mater) looked delicious as-written, but I needed to adapt it a little to make it low-fat and child-friendly (meaning friendly to my child, who thinks black pepper is too spicy). I added a little more asafetida (hing) because I just love the stuff, and eliminated the turmeric because I didn’t want anything muddying up the color of my red cabbage. The result was so delicious that I made it two days in a row. Okay, to be honest, I made it the second day because we ate it all up the first time before I could get a photo, but we still enjoyed every bite of that second batch. (If you’re planning to take a photo of it, you should know that it’s pretty for about 5 minutes. You need to take it off the heat as soon as the cabbage is just barely cooked and take its photo immediately; if you let it sit, the red turns an unphotogenic shade of indigo and the peas shrivel up.)

One more thing: If you are hesitant about cooking cabbage because of the smell, hesitate no longer. While boiling cabbage produces an odor that many people find objectionable, cooking it with little water, either in the oven or in a skillet as in this recipe, is odorless. In fact, if you enjoy the aroma of toasting cumin seeds, you should love smelling–as well as eating–this recipe.
Red Cabbage and Peas with Cumin and Mustard Seeds

Red Cabbage and Peas with Cumin and Mustard Seeds
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I use a quick spray of oil (about 4 drops) to toast the seeds, but if you want to leave it out, watch them carefully and remove from heat as soon as they become fragrant. Overcooking will make them bitter.
Serves: 4
  • 1/2 large head red cabbage (about 6 cups shredded)
  • canola oil spray
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional–or use 1 tsp. minced garlic)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • quick squeeze of lemon juice
  1. Core the cabbage and slice it very thin. Heat a deep skillet or wok. Once it’s hot, spray it lightly with canola oil and sprinkle the cumin and mustard seeds across its surface. Toast them for about 1 minute and add the asafetida. Add the peas and stir well, scraping the spices up from the bottom. Add the cabbage and sprinkle it with the red pepper and salt and stir well. Add 1 tablespoon of water and quickly cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. It’s done when the cabbage is to the tenderness you like. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top, stir, and serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/4 of recipe Calories: 50 Fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 8g Sodium: 329mg Fiber: 3g Protein: 3g

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Sautéd red cabbage makes a simple, delicious Indian side dish that is vegan, low-calorie, and low-fat.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SusanV August 1, 2009 at 2:50 pm

When the blog was moved last year, these older comments were lost:

Eating Consciously said…

What a beautiful dish!

5:25 PM, January 24, 2009
* shelby said…

I clicked on your blog to bring up the new post and was blinded by the beautiful purple cabbage! What an amazing dish to photograph, I would have taken tons of photos =)

5:46 PM, January 24, 2009
* laci said…

Wow how ever do you manage to get gourmet quality photos? Seriously Susan, you should publish your own cookbook! I SOOOO bet it would be a huge hit! 😀

6:02 PM, January 24, 2009
* said…

Red cabbage is SO healthful, I need all the recipes for it I can get! Great post!

6:09 PM, January 24, 2009
* Marni said…

Not only does this look and sound delicious, it’s downright beautiful! I love the colors! 🙂

6:50 PM, January 24, 2009
* Amey said…

oh how lovely – the peas and cabbage look beautiful together. I really love cabbage!

7:41 PM, January 24, 2009
* Meg said…

Looks delicious! I love all the colors.

9:13 PM, January 24, 2009
* sarahk said…

Susan, you rock! I just bought some panch phoran yesterday to make the cauliflower dahl and now you’ve given me a side dish too. That’s tomorrow night’s dinner all planned.

9:15 PM, January 24, 2009
OpenID vegwife said…

What a great combo! And beautiful photo. 🙂

10:18 PM, January 24, 2009
* City Girl said…

This look amazing! I do not eat enough cabbage. I will definitely try this.

12:14 AM, January 25, 2009
Anonymous moonwatcher said…

Wow, Susan,

This is so amazing . . I just was on my way to bed and checked your blog for some reason all of a sudden. . .I did a double take because, without having seen it, I did a nearly identical “raw” version of this tonight!! It was red cabbage, frozen peas thawed, a green onion, and some home made oil free vinagrette (rice vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, and small dab of raspberry fruit only preserves) with ground dill and caraway. This was my non-cooked variation of a recipe in Mostly Macro cookbook by Lisa Turner that is cabbage, peas, olive oil and caraway seeds, salt and pepper. . .I wanted to do something without the olive oil that had some crunch. Now I will try this, too, cooked with the Indian spicing and no tablespoon of olive oil. I love how pretty and delicious green peas and red cabbage are together. It’s one of my favorite combinations. And yes, evidently cabbage is the viable local winter veggie north or south! It’s fun that we were on the same page without knowing it!!



12:30 AM, January 25, 2009
* Azzahar said…

That looks just lovely!

5:42 AM, January 25, 2009
Anonymous The Wind Attack said…

When I read that it was cabbage in my RSS feed, I thought I might find some dreadful red mush, but was delightfully surprised when I clicked the link and saw your wonderfully cheerful picture. That dish would be sure to brighten up any winter day!

10:02 AM, January 25, 2009
* noodlebang said…

Gorgeous!! I second the cookbook – your recipes and photography are wonderful.

5:37 PM, January 25, 2009
* Ruth said…

Mmmm… you had me at “cumin and mustard seed”, but the picture sealed the deal.

7:38 PM, January 25, 2009
Anonymous said…

As a photographer, I have to say HOW VERY MUCH I enjoy your site! Your recipes are wonderful, too!

I had to smile when I read today’s posting. I get a little loco in January (cabin fever, if you will), so when I saw you reference being a January LOCOvore as opposed to LOCAvore, I really related!

Keep up the awesome work!

9:13 PM, January 25, 2009
* SusanV said…

Ha! I think I really AM a “locovore”! That was an entirely accidental misspelling, but I’m going to leave it alone…until my compulsiveness takes over.

9:28 PM, January 25, 2009
* Melisser said…

I LOVED that recipe from Manjula’s Kitchen! I made it with less oil as well… SO tasty!

2:18 AM, January 26, 2009
* Aparna said…

The picture does look very lovely. I’ve never combined red cabbage with peas before which is funny as I do cook regular cabbage with peas!:)

Btw, adding a little bit of ginger while cooking cabbage also helps get rid of “cabbage” odour.

5:43 AM, January 26, 2009
* Michelle said…

I definitely don’t eat enough cabbage! I never know how to prepare. This sounds great, and easy. Thanks!

12:44 PM, January 26, 2009
Anonymous Buxi said…

That looks really good 🙂

7:09 AM, January 27, 2009
* Chris said…

Beautiful photos. And what a nutritional powerhouse! I wish we could get fresh cabbage up here in the Northeast… 🙂

9:51 AM, January 27, 2009
* Bianca said…

I think that may be the prettiest dish I have ever seen! Purple foods rule!

3:15 PM, January 27, 2009
* Veganthony said…

HEy. I love using red cabbage in cooking rather than raw. Its beautiful braised with wine. Anyways i love your blog. Here is my attempt.

4:30 PM, January 27, 2009
* Catherine said…

That’s beautiful, Susan!

8:43 PM, January 27, 2009
* Rajee said…

I subscribed ur blog. Pls share Manjula’s recipes with me.

8:09 AM, January 28, 2009
* nannykim said…

Looks inviting–I don’t know what it is this week, but I have been craving cabbage and having some every day at lunch!! WEIRD. This is a nice option!

1:58 PM, January 29, 2009
Anonymous lisaiscooking said…

What a bright and pretty dish for winter! Sounds delicious.

9:03 AM, January 30, 2009
Anonymous catering equipment said…

I love red cabbage. Veyr pretty picture!

4:35 AM, February 03, 2009
Anonymous Maureen said…

Just wanted to thank you for the Red Cabbage and Peas with Cumin and Mustard Seeds recipe–Such great tastes and textures with so little work! You’re amazing–Thank you so much!!

7:56 PM, February 03, 2009
* Auglaise said…

Just wanted to say that I made this last night, and it was absolutely brilliant. I’ve been struggling to find things to go with cabbage, as I’ve been getting loads in my vegetable boxes recently, and this is likely to become one of my favourite go-to recipies during the week. It’s gorgeous!

6:40 AM, February 04, 2009
* Roia said…

I want to second what Auglaise said. I just made the recipe, and it’s quite good. I just wish I’d been paying attention and read that it could have had turmeric in it as well. That would have changed the color, as you noted, but I bet it would have been yummy and my condo would smell even more glorious! Thanks for your very yummy recipe sharing!

8:48 PM, February 08, 2009
* Jennifer said…

Made this for dinner tonight but added whole coriander seeds at the beginning during the toasted phase. Also included green beans, zucchini, lemongrass marinated tempeh, tamari, and garnished with diced tomatoes and cilantro…meal in a bowl…loved it!

9:51 PM, February 15, 2009
Anonymous said…

That’s one great recipe! I’ve translated it into Russian and posted it here, link to your blog included.
Thank you so much!

11:09 PM, February 17, 2009
Anonymous said…

Hi, I’m an Indian American vegan who made a dish very similar to this for a Northern California retreat for 22 people last week. Everyone told me they loved it and, the true test, many asked to take home leftovers. In my part of the country in late March, beautiful organic apples are available. Because i was cooking in advance for many people, I cooked my cabbage apple dish (called “shak” in the language of my parent’s home state) and froze it. It stood up very well to freezing and reheating later, firmness being a nice quality of both the cabbage and apples in the dish.
I didn’t actually make the dish with peas, but served the cabbage-apple “shak” with edamame, a nice protein boost. Whole foods sells great bags of frozen shelled edamame. I substitue edamame for peas a lot in my Indian cooking for the added protein, as I think peas have mostly carbs, with little nutritional value.
Thanks for this site, I will pass the link on to my retreat friends, as they’ll enjoy seeing the recipe too!

1:17 PM, April 01, 2009


2 Anonymous September 16, 2009 at 11:19 am

dear Susan,I have just cooked your recipe – I had no idea red cabbage can taste so good! Thank you so much!


3 Allison October 15, 2009 at 12:21 pm

It's delicious! Just what I was looking for after getting a beautiful red cabbage in my weekly organic veggie delivery!


4 Elizabeth January 22, 2010 at 11:39 pm

This is an amazing recipe! We (my husband and I) can easily eat a whole head of cabbage and still want more.


5 MIA December 17, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Delicious! I have been looking for a vegetable side for Indian dishes & this is perfect. It preps & cooks in no time too! Served it with your Yellow Split-Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale tonight and it was a really nice addition.


6 anushruti February 9, 2011 at 9:44 am

I have always wondered what to do with red cabbage. I mostly end up using it in western style dishes. This dish is a common everyday one for us in India. Replacing red cabbage is such a fresh and inspiring twist. Makes the usual unsual!


7 Sarah January 25, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I love what you’re doing over here! I’ve read you for years and don’t say often enough how much i appreciate your tasty and attractive recipes. Plus you just seem like an all-around nice lady. Hope 2012 is good to you, and hooray for cabbage!!!


8 Christina February 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

This was very tasty!!!!! I loved that it was so light and fragrant. Will definitely make again. Oh and so quick and simple too!


9 Andrea January 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Going to try as soon as possible! Thank you!


10 Esther J March 18, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I made this as I had a half of St. Patrick’s Day (green) cabbage in the crisper to use up.

So good! (or else, my body really needed something found in cabbage. 🙁 More likely, it’s because cabbage has been a favorite since childhood and I have been craving Indian flavors.) I couldn’t stop gobbling it up.

I did misread the recipe and mistakenly added a teaspoon of curry along with the cumin, so it turned into curried cabbage, kind of.

This was a good complement to your eggplant quinoa burger, which I also made.

Thanks, Susan 🙂


11 Rebecca Finch January 25, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Dr, Michael Greger of did a video on the most inexpensive ways of getting antioxidants, and red cabbage was at the top of the list. I will try this immediately.


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