Kerelan Coconut Cabbage

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“South Indian cabbage with coconut, curry leaves, and chili”

Flavorful, light, balanced, and perfect for spring, and spring cleanse eating.

Characteristics of this dish:

  • Sweet
  • Alkalizing
  • Anti-inflammatory and relieves burning
  • Laxative due to fiber content
  • Clear, cold, dry, difficult
  • Cooked cabbage is air and ether
  • Pacifies pitta and kapha.

Can be irritating for vata, but with spices and the sour taste from lemon, it is digestible.

coconut cabbage in a skillet

Is cabbage good for you?

Cooked cabbage is light, clear, cooling, and dry. If this sounds like cleansing food, you would be right.

Cabbage is actually a fascinating vegetable. I believe it is one of the only vegetables out there that is completely inhospitable to parasites. So I always think of cabbage as the “clean vegetable.”

When you add coconut to the cabbage, you are adding healthy fats, and more nourishment, so it balances out the cleansing qualities of the cabbage.

Next, we need to address the fact that both cabbage and coconut are cooling.

Too much cold quality can be unsupportive for some people.

That’s where the spices come in!

I’ve made the less common spices optional for you.

Let’s talk about them now!

Spice benefits

CUMIN POWDER is supportive for digestion due to its warmth and assistance in the assimilation of nutrients.

You may have cumin seeds, but not the powder. You can use the seeds instead of the powder, but try to sizzle them in the fat until they turn brown to release their medicinal properties.

ingredients for coconut cabbage

FRESH GARLIC is very heating; can break up congestion; supports circulation, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, and laxative.

Garlic is one of the most used spices in Western cooking, but I want you to notice its strong heating effect. If you already have heat in your system due to inflammation (or some other reason), garlic may not be supporting you. You can easily leave it out of this recipe.

GREEN CHILI is very heating again, but I find it less aggravating than garlic. While garlic distributes heat throughout the dish and takes over, green chili keeps to itself. (Hopefully that makes sense to you.)

When you use green chili in small quantities, it can add just the warmth and digestive support you need.

Green chilis are popular in Indian cuisine. Substitutes include Thai green chilies, which are more readily available, or jalapeño.

Pro trick: Chop your chilies really fine so that you don’t get too much in a single bite.

BLACK MUSTARD SEEDS are warming again, with a little pungent and bitter taste. Known as a digestive, and good for alleviating stomach discomfort, such as gas or cramps.

FENUGREEK SEEDS are a warming bitter that helps to drive out cold and damp, especially from the lower part of the body. Also famous for reducing cholesterol.

CURRY LEAVES are bitter and pungent in taste, to me curry leaves are very similar to citrus peel. Pacifying and supportive for the liver.

Substitute with fresh cilantro, but add the cilantro at the end.

TURMERIC POWDER is warming, improves circulation; thins and purifies the blood, dries dampness, and supports the liver.

Click here for more information about Indian Spices, and where to buy them.

coconut cabbage

Kerelan Coconut Cabbage

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 117kcal
This South Indian cabbage with coconut, curry leaves, and chili is flavorful, light, balanced, and perfect for spring, and spring cleanse eating
Print Recipe


For the paste

  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes desiccated
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon green chili roughly chopped

And the rest

  • 5 cups white cabbage finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (avocado, sunflower, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1 piece red chili halved (sub with pinch of red chili flakes)
  • 6 pieces curry leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro roughly chopped (for garnish)
  • 1 piece lemon freshly squeezed (for garnish)


Preparation steps

  • Add the ingredients for the paste to a blender with 1/4 cup water and blend to a fine paste. Set aside.
  • Finely slice the cabbage and the onions. Keep them separate. Get out all the spices and have them ready by the stove.

Cook the cabbage

  • Heat a large sauté pan or skillet on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek, and sauté until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the dried chili and stir until aromatic, then add the onion. Stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the curry leaves, and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the turmeric powder and stir well.
  • Add the shredded cabbage with the salt, and mix well
  • Turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook the cabbage over low heat with the lid on, checking every few minutes and giving it a stir. Do not add extra water unless absolutely needed. The cabbage should cook in its own juices and it should not brown much.
  • Once the cabbage is cooked, but still a bit crisp, add the coconut paste and continue to cook for 2 minutes with the lid on.
  • Turn off the heat, and garnish with fresh cilantro.
  • For a complete meal, enjoy with basmati rice and dal.


Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 204mg | Potassium: 303mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 387IU | Vitamin C: 126mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 2mg
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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