Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fennel, Cumin, and Sesame Seeds

A beautifully spiced, Indian take on a classic cabbage side.

Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fennel, Cumin, and Sesame Seeds

We usually think of cabbage as having a strong affinity with Eastern European flavors, but it works beautifully with Indian flavors as well. This is a quick and easy vegetable dish that is a great side for your favorite Indian curry, or part of a spread of several different types of vegetable dishes. A combination of seeds -- fennel, sesame, and cumin -- create a subtle, earthy spice that’s then heightened by the addition of warm garam masala and bright cayenne and lemon juice. So, when you have half a head of cabbage in the fridge, and you’re not in the mood for coleslaw or cabbage and apples, give these Indian flavors a try!

Spices used in this recipe

Cumin Seed
Fennel Seed
Cayenne Pepper
Garam Masala
Salt, Kosher



  1. Prep the cabbage -- remove the coarse outer leaves, cut the cabbage in half, and cut out the core. Cut into thin shreds using a very sharp knife. Measure out all of the spices and lemon juice in advance so you’ll be ready to throw them in the pan as you cook.
  2. Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the cumin, fennel, and sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until the seeds begin to pop and become very fragrant, 3-5 minutes. As soon as the seeds start to pop, stir in the onion and cook until soft and beginning to turn golden, 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage to the skillet, stirring to coat with the onions and spices. Cook over medium-high heat until wilted and beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes. Add the salt and cayenne and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the cabbage for another 7-8 minutes until very soft.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and garam masala and remove from heat. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Serves 4 as a side dish. Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey.

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