Cabbage Varai


Last year I posted a recipe for varai made with green leafy veges. You can also make carrot varai, cabbage varai and hibiscus leaf varai.

Recently we had sad looking cabbage in the fridge and so I called up my mum and got the recipe for cabbage varai and cooked it up. I loved it. I doubled the turmeric and curry powder that my mum advised and ate it with rice and yoghurt and it was delicious. I also added lime juice from 1/2 a lime which gave it a good zing – even though mum said she never uses lime. The reason I made these additions is because I was only making one curry to eat with rice and yoghurt, not a variety of curries, which is normally how you would eat a Tamil meal. For this reason, i upped the spice ratio to get more flavours.

The below recipe has the portions that my would use. It closely follows the ‘Carrot Varai’ recipe in Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils (pg 63).

400 grams cabbage
5 tsp oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped into squares (see photo and ignore the choice of knife)
3 red chillies, broken into pieces or chopped
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
8 curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 cup coconut
1-1.5 tsp salt (varies according to different tastes)
1 tsp lime (optional)


1. Cut cabbage in thin strips (see photo).


2. In a big mixing bowl that you can put in the microwave – add cabbage, turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Sprinkle a few handfuls of water and put in microwave for 3 minutes.
3. Heat oli. Fry onion and dried chillies.

Cabbage_varai-5  Cabbage_varai-6

4. When onions start to turn golden, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and keep frying will onion turns brown. See photo.
5. Add cabbage mixture and coconut to frying pan.
6. Fry for about 4 minutes. Turn off stove, cover. Serve when ready.
7. Add lime if you want to.


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