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Bandgobhi alu sabji
(Fried cabbage and potatoes)

It’s curious how some of the world’s most famous cuisines are always in search of excellence. From classical French cuisine came cuisine nouvelle, and now cuisine moderne blends the classic and the nouvelle. And in Italy, the most discerning chefs hail la nuova cucina italiana, the new Italian cooking.

Vedic cooking, in contrast, never changes. This simple dish of cooked vegetables and sweet spices, coming from the head priest of the ancient Minaksi temple in Madurai, India, is as tasty and healthful today as it has been for thousands of years.

Preparation and cooking time: 30 min

1 lb (450 g) cabbage
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches (7.5 cm) long
4 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
11/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup (150 ml) water

Wash the cabbage, shred it, and let it drain. Grind the cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon stick into a fine powder and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the ghee or vegetable oil in a saucepan over moderate heat. Put the cubed potatoes in the pan and stir-fry them, scraping the bottom of the pan frequently, until they are lightly browned. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Put the remaining tablespoon of ghee or vegetable oil in the same saucepan and stir-fry the grated ginger, cayenne pepper and turmeric. Fry for a few seconds more. Add the shredded cabbage and fry for 3 or 4 more minutes, stirring regularly to mix it with the spices and prevent scorching. Add the tomatoes, fried potatoes, salt, sugar, and water. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat until all the vegetables are tender. Before serving, sprinkle the previously prepared ground sweet spices over the top and mix gently.