Even the most hardcore curry lovers amongst you (I know you’re out there) might be a little perplexed by the name of this recipe. Don’t worry; you’re not out of the loop. Rather, thoran is much a lesser-known dish than the korma, tikka masalas and even the daals that regularly appear on English-language recipe sites and in cookbooks.
Thoran is a “dry” curry from Kerala, which means that it may not be what you consider to be a traditional curry – it doesn’t have any sauce. Instead, the vegetables are cooked in a spice-laden oil with a little water, which might go against everything you consider a curry to be, but it’s incredibly delicious.
The keen-eyed amongst you might have also noticed that there’s no garlic in this recipe. Shocking, I know! Thoran in the southern parts of Kerala doesn’t traditionally contain onions or garlic, so to maintain the traditional style, I have left these out. However, if you’re getting ill and need the nutrients or really just fancy some garlic and onion, feel free to throw them in too.
Although beetroot thoran exists, and cabbage and coconut thoran exists, I haven’t ever seen a recipe that combines the two – and I’ve no idea why! Beetroot pairs beautifully with both chilli and coconut, so it seemed entirely natural for me to bring these flavours together. Be sure to grate the beetroot into long, thin pieces to maintain the great consistency here, and don’t be shy with the coconut!
1/2 a large spring cabbage (or other green cabbage), shredded
2 medium beetroots, peeled and grated
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 small green chillies, sliced into thin rounds
1 small piece of ginger, finely grated or minced
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
5 curry leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut (you can use desiccated if necessary)
fresh coriander (optional)
Heat the coconut oil over a medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add in the mustard seeds until they start to pop
Add in the cumin seeds and curry leaves and stir for a minute
Then add in the turmeric, ginger, salt and black pepper and stir for about 30 seconds
Add in the shredded cabbage, beetroot and carrots along with a splash of water and cook, stirring often, for 5-8 minutes or until the carrots are tender
Stir in the green chillies and coconut, stir a couple of times, then serve with white rice and poppadoms
Top with the fresh coriander if using, and garnish with mango chutney
This is one of the healthiest and most interesting curries that I’ve ever come across, and I look forward to seeking it out in India next year! In the mean time, this recipe is going to be put into regular rotation in my house – and hopefully yours too!