It’s gotta be Jewish ‘cos it’s cabbage!

There’s something about cabbage that conjures up my Eastern European, Ashkenazi “culinary” roots. My earliest memories of traditional Jewish cooking involved stuffed cabbage, hot borscht with cabbage, and pickled cabbage.  I have always loved cabbage, and these particular cabbage dishes are among my favorites when it comes to my own personal culinary heritage. And as soon as I get a chance, I will post a recipe for the hot borscht with cabbage, which I think is one of the best soups there is (even though I am alone in that opinion in my house).

When I was growing up, the cabbage in question was almost always white cabbage. But when I came to live in Israel, I discovered that red cabbage was extremely popular here, especially in salads. In fact, the one dish I’ve always made with red cabbage is my sweet and sour cabbage, has been met with astonishment from my Israeli friends, many of whom had never seen cooked red cabbage!

Curried Red Cabbage Slaw

So to my recipe…for Rosh Hashana, my friend Gili bought me one of the best gifts ever: “The Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking” by Marlena Spieler. This is a massive collection of Jewish recipes – some more traditional, others seem to just be good recipes that are kosher. All in all, it’s a wonderful and eclectic mix of recipes, and whatever I have tried so far has worked well. What I love about her Curried Red Cabbage Slaw is that it combines the red cabbage of Eastern Europe with the tangy curry flavor I grew up with in South Africa to create a fun and easy salad to make. You can make it dairy with the yogurt, for a creamier taste or you can leave out the yogurt for the parev version. I have significantly reduced the sugar she suggests, but if you prefer it sweeter, go ahead. With its robust flavors, this salad goes really well with meat dishes.


½ a head of red cabbage thinly sliced

1 red pepper thinly sliced

½ a red onion thinly sliced or chopped

4 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ cup plain yogurt (optional)

½ cup mayonnaise or ¾ cup if you aren’t using the yogurt

¼-½ teaspoon curry powder (the strength of different curry powders vary, so if the curry powder is very strong, use less)

Salt and ground black pepper

How to do it

1. Combined the cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves and pour over the veggies. Cool.

3. Mix the yogurt and/or mayonnaise, curry powder, salt and pepper and mix into the salad.

4. Leave to sit for a few hours and drain off excess liquid before serving.

Serves about six.


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