This cabbage roulade is just a fancy musical name for a very popular Indian Paatra or Pathrode. An all savory vegan dish, traditionally paatra is made with the beautiful leaves of colocasia/taro root/arbi. The leaves are layered, rolled, steamed, sliced like little pretty pinwheels, and then tempered with spices.
I crave for paatra. The childhood memories of the sweet generous neighbor who made the best paatras from homegrown leaves makes me want to go back in time and stand at her doorsteps again. She made them frequently, so often that no one in my home cared to give this a try – we knew we had a steady supply. And no paatra till today tastes as good as hers. She knew I loved them and she walked up with to the door with a smile and bowlful of these delicacies every time she made them. I am ever so thankful! and regretful that I never cared to ask her what she did to make them so different and delicious.
I do not always find the taro leaves. Some are growing in my yard, but just a couple of them would not be enough. The colocasia/taro leaves are dark green, tender, paper thin when steamed and has its own flavors which is very typical of the Paatra; but they also has the condition which might make your throat quite itchy. It is the presence of the calcium oxalate that causes the itchiness.Traditionally, lime juice or tamarind pulp is used with the stuffing to neutralize this effect. Most of the big matured leaves I get here in the stores will make you uncomfortable. I have known some friends who make this with the Collard greens and they work fine too.
The thin texture of the taro leaves makes it easier to roll the leaves tighter, and the paste does not ooze out in an indecent manner resulting in a more layers and obviously prettier looking pinwheels when sliced. Oh! well, the compromises for a substitute….
But it is mainly the unavailability of the leaves that made me go for the cabbage leaves. Besides the cabbage I got was perfect and a work of art.
Fresh, green and very beautiful! How I could I resist using these spectacular leaves?
The kind of stuffing used for this recipe varies regionally in India. While in the northern and western parts of India Paatra is made with taro leaves stuffed with spices and chickpea flour, in the southern regions a variation is the Pathrode and here the taro leaves are stuffed with rice and/or lentils and spices. Sometimes these are cooked in a spicy sauce.
Using cabbage leaves does not make it taste exactly like the Paatra/or Pathrode, as the cabbage leaves tastes nothing like the taro leaves and has a very strong flavor very difficult to ignore. But in the absence of the taro leaves, this is a pretty good substitute. Now let us settle for an unconventional Paatra/Patrode.
If you are using taro leaves:
skip the process of boiling the leaves. The taro leaves are tender.
Combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon tamarind pulp with the paste – to neutralize the calcium oxalate.
Cabbage and Chickpea Roulade
- 6 medium sized cabbage leaves
- 1.5 cups chickpea flour/besan/bengal gram flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ajwain/carom seeds
- 2 teaspoons red chili powder/cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- a pinch of hing/asafoetida
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds or white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon oil
- fresh cilantro/coriander leaves or curry leaves
- thinly sliced fresh green chili peppers
- fresh lime juice
- grated fresh coconut – Optional
Remove the leaves from the cabbage. Wash and drain. Carefully slice off the midrib of the leaves without making any holes/cutting through.
Boil water in a pot. Drop the whole leaves in the boiling water and let it cook for 6-8 minutes. The leaves will soften (allowing you to fold/roll easily) and will turn a brighter shade of green.
Lightly crush the carom seeds/ajwain in the palm of your hands to release the flavors.
Combine the chickpea flour, salt, turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander powder, chili powder and the water and whisk/beat till you are at a lump free pasty consistency. The texture should be a little thinner than a paste, the kind which will slowly drip out of a spoon.
Lay the largest leaf flat, and put a couple of spoons of the chickpea flour mix on the leaf. Spread it into a thin layer leaving about 1/2 inch space around the edges. Don’t worry if the mixture kind of runs over the edges.
Place another leaf over this leaf with the spread and repeat the process. Do the same with another leaf and the spread.
Fold the longer sides of this layer, on each side.
Roll it up at the best you can and secure with toothpicks. Do not worry if you see some of the spread running out. You can use them to kind of seal the leaves. They will solidify when steamed.
This amount would make 2 rolls with 3 leaves in each.
Make another roll with the remaining 3 leaves and the spread. Secure this one with toothpicks too.
(Alternate method: You can smear the paste in single leaf, and roll them up individually and secure them with toothpicks. The result will be small sized pinwheels when you slice them)
Lightly grease a steamer pan and place the rolls in the steamer pan; cover and steam it on a bowl of boiling water for about 20-15 minutes.
The chickpea mix needs to be completely cooked. Turn them over midway during the steaming process. Once cooked, the batter would have solidified and the leaves will turn a darker shade.
Let the rolls cool. Slice them with a sharp knife.
Heat a thick bottomed flat pan, big enough to hold all the slices in a single layer. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil – swirl to coat the pan. Carefully place the slices on the pan and fry/cook them for about 3-4 minutes at medium to high heat or till they are light brown and kind of crispy on the edges. Flip them over and cook the other side in the same way.
Arrange the slices in a single layer on a serving plate. Sprinkle the sliced chili pepper and curry leaves or fresh coriander/cilantro leaves on the top.
Heat 1 tablespoons of oil in a small pan. Add the asafoetida/hing and the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds starts to splutter, pour out the hot tempered oil evenly on the sliced roulades. Drizzle some fresh lime juice on the slices and garnish with fresh grated coconut.
Serve right away with mint cilantro chutney or your favorite sauce or condiment. Pairs really well with drink.
On its way to Susan’s MLLA #27, hosted by herself this time.