A simple homey side dish of cabbage, peas and potatoes cooked in a very Bengali way.
Bandhakopi=Cabbage an the term Torkaari is a general term used in West Bengal for any side dishes, mostly the ones with vegetables in them. (Torkaari originated from Persian, “the word first meant uncooked garden vegetables. From this it was a natural extension to mean cooked vegetables or even fish and vegetables cooked together” – wiki)
Even the simple recipe like this one, which is part of the of the daily meals, belongs to a rather complex web of Bengali cuisine (do read this link if you want to further explore the delicious nature of the food from this region of India).
We Bengalis are very particular about the way and the order in which the food should be served and eaten. Each dish is eaten separately with a little rice so that the individual flavors, taste and texture may be enjoyed. I have written about the elaborate nature of the typical every day meal of a Bengali home. There are many different different ways to cook many different kind of torkaaris in West Bengal using the exact same combination of vegetables. The spices and the method of cooking differ and at different times different dishes are designed; they could a dalna, chorchori, ghonto or something entirely new of your own.
This is one of the (probably the only one) cabbage recipes I really would love to eat. Shredding the cabbage really fine (I would always think of a basket of flowers when I saw ma cut the cabbage so fine and so quick) and pre cooking it probably give this dish the unique taste -for when finally cooked, I did not find many big crunchy cabbage pieces. Everything blended together really well.
Cabbage with Peas and Potatoes/Bandhakopir Torkaari
- 1/2 medium sized cabbage
- 3 medium potatoes, diced to about 10-12 pieces - about 2.5 cups
- 1 cup peas
- 1 big red tomato, grated - about 1 cup full
- 1.5 tablespoons ginger paste
- 2 hot green peppers, slit
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 red dry chili, broken
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 small green cardamom
- 2 cloves
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ghee (optional)
Cut the cabbage very very finely; it should be about as long as a matchstick and if possible as thin. I know it sounds impossible but try to get as close. Wash the shredded cabbage.
Add salt, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 cup of water. combine everything, cover tightly and cook at medium to low heat till the cabbage is almost cooked and tender, for about 6 minutes. Uncover and cook for 4-5 more minutes at high heat till most of the water evaporates. It is alright if there are still a couple of tablespoons of water left. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a thick bottomed pan or wok or kadhai. Sprinkle some salt and turmeric powder on the diced potatoes and fry the diced potatoes for about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil in the pan. When smoking hot, add the cardamom (break them to expose seeds) and the clove. when they sizzle in a few seconds add the cumin seeds, red dry chili, and the bay leaf.
When you see the seeds sizzle, add the ginger paste, grated tomato, green chilis, the rest of the turmeric, chili powder (if you are using) and salt. Cook for about 6-8 minutes switching between medium to high heat, till the water from the tomato is all gone and the oil separates on the sides.
Add the potatoes to the pan, toss and cook for a minute. Add the peas and the cabbage and sugar and toss everything together. Cook while tossing frequently for at least 10 -12 minutes. At this time you will feel that the curry is sticking at the base of the pan. You are almost done at this time. The potatoes should be cook through; if not, sprinkle some water and lower the heat.
Keep cooking till all of the water is dried out, the potatoes are cooked and entire mass would have reduced considerably. The cabbage strands might not appear as whole, they will be quite mushed. You are done! Sprinkle the garam masala and the ghee if you are using it and toss well to combine.
Serve warm with roti or steamed rice (if you are having an Indian meal, Indian way), or serve as a side.