Bengali Cabbage and a Promise

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 mustard oil envelops the cabbage to smear it with its enchanting 5 flavors, don’t be surprised if you find yourself bursting into song as these flavors brush your senses.
The first time I tasted Bengali cabbage was at a celebratory potluck. With the support of 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.
How did I do this at a time when I was down and under about to leave an abusive marriage? My thought was ‘I made a promise to the children of this village school. It inspires and uplifts me to focus on that promise vs. a break up that is inevitable and I don’t want to focus energy on the negative’.
Keeping this promise became easy as friends and perfect strangers gathered around to offer support. The print shop with a history of never doing pro-bono work offered to print brochures for free. A chance conversation with a massage therapist turned into her offering to create awareness with social media from her prior background as a reporter. A photographer offered to take studio pix of the artistes. A scientist cum painter friend offered to paint floor to wall size paintings and auction them off during the concert. A best friend rolled up her sleeves and became project manager. A MAC makeup artiste eagerly offered to do my makeup. I think she did a great job, don’t you 🥰 My fellow musicians agreed to a never before deal of no payment so that money also went to the school. Friends from my Sunday group came together to sell tickets, book the concert venue at the university of Toronto’s auditorium. A financial planner dropped $3000 towards the building of the school. The miracles continued as I steadily kept my promise.

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.

You Need
2 cups shredded cabbage

pinch hing
2 tbsp mustard oil
2 dry red chillies, reduce if less heat preferred
1 tsp chopped ginger
¼ tsp mustard seeds(rai)
¼ tsp cumin seeds(jeera)
¼ tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
4 grains fenugreek seeds(methi)
¼ tsp nigella or onion seeds(kalonji)

  • Heat wok and add oil.
  • Add 5 spice mix & let splutter and release aroma.
  • Add hing & ginger & lightly sauté. Add dry red chilies after breaking each one into two.
  • 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.
  • Cover & let cook on low heat for about 2 minutes.
  • Remove lid, stir cabbage on high heat till water evaporates & cabbage is cooked al dente. Remove from fire and enjoy.

So go ahead and promise me you will try Bengali cabbage. and tell me about a promise you kept that brought incredible peace.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Mohideen Ibramsha says:

    Dear Charu, October 17, 2020;
    Good Forever.
    I heard you sing.
    I do not know your marital status now.
    I pray for your happiness.
    GOD Willing, rest in next.
    Youruncle,
    Mohideen Ibramsha
    Ex- IIT Delhi

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