Spicing Up Traditional Southern Fare

As a born and bred southerner, I love cabbage, carrots and bacon – LOTS of bacon. In recent years, however, my home in Decatur has welcomed a wealth of Indian restaurants and those rich and varied flavors have become favorites. To satisfy both cravings at once has been a recent goal until I created a dish I call “Cabbagetown Meets Mumbai.”

 

Like most of the food I cook, this recipe involves fresh vegetables and plenty of flavors. It also means preparing the basic ingredients separately followed by a quick process of combining them all in one large skillet or pot. The result in this case can serve as a one-skillet meal or a hearty side dish with other meats or starches.

 

Begin with your carrots which give a nice sweetness and wonderful color to your main ingredient, the cabbage. Cut them on the diagonal [or buy the already cut carrots] and cook in lightly salted water. Carrots are dense and take longer to soften than most vegetables so they need to cook for about fifteen minutes. Once they have softened, drain and set aside. While the carrots are cooking, cook four strips of thick cut bacon in a large [ten or twelve inch] skillet. Drain the bacon on paper towels and set the skillet with the bacon grease aside. Meanwhile, cut about half a small head of green [purple is fine too] cabbage into large [approximately two inch squares] pieces and place in a pot of salted, boiling water. Cook for about ten minutes and drain. Do not let the cabbage get too wilted.

 

Return your skillet of bacon grease to medium heat and add half a stick of unsalted butter. Dice up a small onion and add to the grease. Cook until softened while adding a tablespoon of mild curry powder [I get my curry powders at the local DeKalb Farmers Market] and a teaspoon of turmeric powder for a rich color. For even more wonderful flavors, I also add garlic powder [two garlic cloves if you prefer], pepper, and a tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Now you can add your cooked cabbage and carrots, sprinkling with some celery and fennel seeds which make a nice visual effect on the green cabbage while adding gentle hints of their flavors. Mix thoroughly over medium heat until everything is combined, about ten minutes. Remove from the skillet and place on a serving dish. Crumble your four strips of cooked bacon over the dish and it is ready to serve and eat.

 

–Photo and story by Dick Funderburke