Bengali Cabbage Panchphoron

The first time I tasted Bengali cabbage was at a celebratory potluck. With the support of some really good friends, we were able to raise funds for a special needs school in a small village in southern india.. here’s a link to my music if you’d like a listen. with the help of this amazing group of committed friends, we eventually raised a total of over $100,000 to help build the center..

I couldn’t believe that Shri had actually made the cabbage. not that I hadn’t tasted his food before, but this was incredible. His recipe included garlic and potatoes. I omitted those for a lighter feel, feel free to make it his way for a heartier cabbage. Panchphoron is a spectacular bend of 5 spices used in Bengali cooking. In India the spices are often sold packaged together. But you should be able to find all the spices individually—that way you’ll get more flexible use out of them.

Kalonji, Jeera, Saunf, Methi, Rai-the 5 spice names are almost like a song and this dish is truly a beautiful song from start to finish, as the spice infused oil envelops the cabbage to smear it with its enchanting 5 flavours, don’t be surprised if you find yourself bursting into song as these flavours brush your senses.

Spice Mix
pinch hing
2 tsp coconut oil
2 dry red chillies
1 tsp chopped ginger
¼ tsp mustard seeds(rai)
¼ tsp cumin seeds(jeera)
¼ tsp fennel seeds(saunf)
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds(methi)
¼ tsp nigella or onion seeds(kalonji)
2 cups shredded cabbage

Serves 4

Preparation time
20 minutes

Pots n pans
Wok or frying pan

Featured Spice
On the train from Toronto to Kingston on a work trip 2 days ago, my fellow passenger& I got chatting. I shared a tip on hing and she was awed as she had faced the gassy effects of lentils and didn’t know what to do. I explained how Hing is the best antidote to foods like cabbage, lentils etc. An amazing digestive aid that you can easily add to lentils, cabbage or any food –it also helps harmonize the various spices together. SOS Do be sure to add a pinch of hing to your cabbage to help the cooking process. Not only will you love the fragrance it imparts but its also going to assist with digesting easily.


  1. Heat wok and add oil.
  2. Add 5 spice mix & let splutter and release aroma.
  3. Add hing & ginger & lightly sauté. Add dry red chilies after breaking each one into two.
  4. Toss in cabbage, add salt & stir fry on high heat. Because the cabbage has been shredded finely, it’ll cook real fast. SOS I take out leaf by leaf & then roll a few leaves together to shred cabbage. I learnt this trick from a friend to preserve cabbage longer.
  5. Cover & let cook on low heat for about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove lid, stir cabbage on high heat till water evaporates & cabbage is cooked al dente. Remove from fire and enjoy.

Health benefits
Cabbage is nutritious and low in calories at the same time. Ever wondered why the Chinese look so youthful.. it’s the different varieties of cabbage in their diet like bokchoy, etc. that round up their vitamin rich diet! Cabbage is a storehouse of phyto-chemicals–which are powerful antioxidants  known to help protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in the blood.

Fun facts
Both Bengalis and Tamilians are different and yet similar in many ways. We both love rice and we both passionately love music, dance, art in general and debating. We love the fine art of dressing up in rustling silks or cottons to attend music concerts and dance programs & then have spirited discussions on the merits of the performer! In Bengal RabindraSangeet is famous & in tamilnadu, the capital city of Chennai reverberates in December with a winter long music festival.

Suggested Pairing
I really enjoy bengali cabbage panchphoron with chapatti. The lightness of the stir fry complements the hearty chapatti and makes for an excellent meal. Try the cabbage rolled into a chapatti for an awesome lunch box idea. I hope you enjoyed this recipe. I’d love to hear from you on your experience with panchphoron.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a lovely way to use cabbage, so many wonderful flavors and spices. Cabbage really works well with mustard and cumin:)

    1. soulofspice says:

      you;re right – panchphoron is an exquisite blend. Mustard does seem to rhyme well with cabbage –hadn’t thought of it before.. thanks for taking the time to read and to comment.

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