A surprising flavour combination will knock your socks off! This salad is made with finely shredded cabbage and carrot, tossed with a spiced Indian coconut “sambal” of sorts (in India they might call it a “dry chutney”). Based on the traditional South Indian Thoran dry curries, this is ridiculously delicious!
Thoran-style Indian salad?
Thoran is a staple vegetable-based “dry curry” found in the southern India. It consist of chopped vegetables cooked with grated coconut, curry leaves and is lightly flavoured with turmeric and maybe a couple of other spices.
It can be made with many different vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, okra, onion, natives vegetables, or a mix.
For the past year, I’ve been obsessively making the green bean version – which I will publish one of these days, because it’s so damned good!
But today, I’m sharing a salad version of Thoran, made using a spiced coconut flavour base tossed through a cabbage and carrot salad.
No, it’s not strictly authentic, but the flavours are true. I am using raw vegetables here to introduce freshness to the dish. And it’s absolutely delicious – I would not share such an obscure recipe if I felt it wasn’t exceptional!!
What you need for this Thoran-style Indian Salad
Here’s what you need. Note: the ingredients pictured below are for a double batch of the recipe written below, and all the photos pictured in post are a double batch. I was feeding a crowd! 🙂
The three ingredients that give this a truly authentic Indian flavour are the coconut, black mustard seeds and curry leaves. All three are key ingredients in traditional Thoran, on which this salad recipe is based.
Black mustard seeds – They look like poppyseeds but are fragrant and have a slight horseradish-like bite to them. They’re not spicy, more a fresh zing.
~ $1.50 in small packs at Indian grocery stores – my local is Indian Emporium in Dee Why on the Northern Beaches, Sydney. Also sold in the Indian food section at some Woolworths (Australia) $1.70, and online – it’s a small, light pack so postage should be minimal! Also used in Samosas, Eggplant Curry, Dal and in this Vegetable Samosa Pie which is to-die for!
Curry leaves – I just love the smell of fresh curry leaves. They smell like curry powder, but in fresh curry leaf form! (Though just so you know, curry powder isn’t derived from curry leaves. ) Curry leaves are a staple herb in South Indian / Sri Lankan cooking, and impart an incredible and unique perfume into anything it’s used in.
They’re fairly accessible nowadays for Sydney-siders. They are sold at Harris Farms, most Coles and most Woolworths. They keep for a long time in the fridge – as in several weeks – or can be frozen.
Coconut – While fresh is traditional and best, it’s hard to source. I’ve used desiccated coconut here instead. I think it works especially well because it disperses thoroughly throughout the salad. However, larger grated strands would also work well. Be sure to use unsweetened;
Cumin and turmeric – Very common spices used in Indian cooking;
Fresh green chilli – Here I’m using a cayenne pepper. Being a large chilli, it’s not that spicy. This dish isn’t spicy in general – the chilli just gives it a nice background warmth;
Eschalot (USA: shallot) – Those brown baby onion-type alliums which are sweeter and more delicate than regular onions. Can’t find them? Just use more onion instead;
Cabbage and carrot – You’d never expect them to work so well with the coconut and Indian spices, but they do! All those flavours really transform the ordinary into extraordinary!
How to make it
This is a bit of an unusual salad in that it doesn’t involve a liquid dressing that is tossed through fresh greens.
Rather, we are making a cooked, spiced coconut “sambal” of sorts, which is then tossed through finely shredded cabbage and carrot. The heat from the mixture wilts the cabbage and carrot a bit, as well as of course adding all those delightful (and authentic!) Indian flavours!
What to serve Cabbage & Carrot Thoran-style Indian Salad with
I find that this salad is flavourful and interesting enough to serve as an excellent and satisfying vegetarian – indeed, vegan – meal. But actually, it was created to serve as a side salad for a menu for Indian Week!
What’s Indian Week, you ask? It’s a week where I am sharing three brand new, iconic Indian recipes to make your very own Indian feast:
Palak Paneer – The famous Indian Spinach Curry with homemade Paneer (cheese!)
Naan – This recipe, FIVE YEARS in the making, is finally here!
Samosas – Oh yes we did … and it’s AMAZING!!!
Cabbage & Carrot Thoran-style Indian Salad – This recipe.
Try serving this salad alongside protein-heavy Indian mains or curries, such as on of these:
Enjoy! – Nagi x
Cabbage and Carrot Thoran-style Salad (Indian Salad)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil , unrefined (Note 1)
- 3/4 tsp black mustard seeds (Note 2)
- 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 eschalots (USA: shallots) , finely diced (Note 3)
- 1/2 onion (large), finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves , finely minced
- 1 green chilli , deseeded and finely chopped (Note 4)
- 12 curry leaves , fresh (Note 5)
- 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut , unsweetened (Note 6)
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 small red cabbage , very finely sliced (~6 cups)
- 2 small carrots or 1 very large carrot , peeled and finely shredded
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves , roughly chopped
- Melt oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
- Add black mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds – they will pop and sizzle
- Add cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add eschalot and onion, cook for 3 minutes until translucent but not coloured.
- Add garlic and green chilli, cook for 2 minutes until softened but not golden.
- Add turmeric and curry leaves, cook for 30 seconds.
- Add coconut, water and salt. Cook until water mostly evaporates – about 3 minutes.
- Place carrot and cabbage in a large bowl. Add hot coconut mixture. Toss well – the cabbage should wilt from the heat.
- Taste and check if it needs more salt for your taste.
- Toss through coriander. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best eaten on the day of making. See Note 7 regarding reheating/making ahead.
- Brown mustard seeds
- Yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala (different flavour, but is intended to make up for absence, add with turmeric)
- Dried curry leaves (not quite the same, but it’s the best sub);
- 1 tsp Garam Masala powder (add it with rest of spices).
Life of Dozer
Dozer with his friends at the Golden Retriever Boarder’s place. He’s the gold one, ignoring me.