Cabbage Koftas

This was stupendous. If you make these for your friends, they will love you forever, probably even if they don’t love cabbage. These koftas are wonderfully crispy on the outside, with a tender, moist interior. Just phenomenal. And they go together very quickly. Frying them takes a while, but it’s not too bad.

I served these russet-colored items on a bed of arugula (you have to do something virtuous if you’re serving something deep-fried) with a thick stripe of garlic-and-cilantro raita made with organic lowfat yogurt. We had kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce and some basmati rice alongside.

I have made something like this before. My note on this recipe (which comes from Yamuna Devi’s The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking) tells me I last made this on March 20th, 2002. I wrote that as written, the recipe wasn’t bad, but that it was a little one-dimensional, being composed of just cabbage.

So tonight, when I decided I would make a cabbage kofta for dinner, I looked this one up and decided I would use it as a base, adding onion. Other than that, I changed a couple other small elements; the recipe called for fresh chiles, and I used chili flakes, and the recipe included grated coconut, and I passed on that.

This recipe can be doubled for a party amount – remember, though, that the mixture will become looser as it sits waiting to be fried, so if you start shaping these and do them all at once, the first few will be very firm and by the end they’ll have a very casual attitude toward sticking together. You can deal with it, or mix a little more chickpea flour into it. Even when they get pretty loose, I haven’t had them blow apart in the oil.

Oil for deep frying (safflower has a high smoking point & is your best bet – canola will work)
3 c. finely shredded cabbage (Use your food processor shredding disc, if you’ve got one. Saves knuckles.)
1/2 a large onion, finely chopped
1/2 in. piece of peeled fresh ginger, minced
1/2 t. chili flakes
1 t. turmeric
1 t. garam masala
3 T. minced cilantro
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 c. chickpea flour

Get the oil heating. Bring it to about 320. This is on the top end of medium-high and the bottom end of high on my stove. A candy/frying thermometer, which I use, is a good investment. If the cabbage is very wet, squeeze some of the moisture out of it with your hands. Then mix all the ingredients together. Shape into logs about an inch in diameter and about 2 inches long. Place gently into the hot oil and fry for about 6-7 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides. Remove and drain on several layers of paper towling. Finished koftas can be placed in a preheated 200 degree oven to keep warm until all are finished.

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