Cabbage Paruppu Usili (Cabbage Sabzi / Veg with a lentil crumble)

A Healthy Main Course option from South Indian cuisine that combines vegetables & lentils. (low oil) (diabetic friendly)

Cabbage Paruppu Usili (Cabbage Sabzi / Veg with a lentil crumble)

I had photographed this image of Cabbage Paruppu Usili even before I officially started my blogging journey. Certainly glad I did it as it captures my love for this dish perfectly (please excuse the amateur photography skills). I never thought I would start a food & travel blog and embark upon this journey but I am so glad I did as my love for food and all things around it needed a medium.

At home, we love a good variety of veggies. Sometimes I cook 2 types of vegetables (dry & gravy) for just the two of us. I know its too much but as long as I love to cook & eat, no issues. Also, the choice of vegetables are usually healthy, made with less oil so it doesn’t make one feel guilty.

My love for a variety of vegetables on my plate also comes with a fact that I am a South Indian. We prefer a lot of vegetables (in sambar, in pachadi or salad etc) so I have grown up eating a lot of vegetables as part of daily meals & I take great pride in saying that I can eat all kinds of vegetables, even the most bitter ones too. Now that’s something I have my dad to thank for.

This Cabbage Paruppu Usili preparation comes from my mother in law’s side (Tanjore). We Palakkad Iyers don’t usually make usili and our gravies are more coconut based and dry sabzis (thorans) too are usually made with some coconut and green chillies.

I never made this veggie (lentil crumble to be precise) until I got married. It was only when Narayan suggested one day, I tried making this. For my first trial, I used french beans as the vegetable as it’s Narayan’s favourite. However, sadly, the first attempt was bad, the crumble wasn’t soft & it was lumpy.

Not accepting defeat so easily, I tried this recipe once again & succeeded. Now, this is one of the variety of veggies that is made at home especially once in a week. I often make extra crumble, so that I can savour it by adding it to other vegetables too, like in this case – Cabbage.

Cabbage is usually a bit boring when you make it the usual way (like a stir fry) so this is a nice way to break the monotony and also feed your family protein in the form of lentils to the otherwise dal avoiding kids at home. They won’t notice the crumble but enjoy the taste for sure.

A bowl of rice, a tsp of ghee or clarified butter, a big serving of this veggie with some Hot Rasam poured on top is guaranteed to steer away any blues you may have.

This is sheer comfort food!! Do try it and I am sure you will incorporate the lentil crumble in many other veggies too. Do let me know in case you experiment.

Cheers! Do read the recipe, instructions to make the lentil crumble with step by step pics  & some notes below 

Cabbage Paruppu Ussili (Cabbage Sabzi with Lentil crumble)

A No Onion & No Garlic Recipe

Serves – 2 to 3 persons

Prep Time – 1 hour soaking time + 30 mins for making the paruppu usili.

Cooking time – 15 mins.

Ingredients for the Sabzi –

  1. ½ cabbage finely chopped.
  2. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Red chilly – 2-3 nos. broken into pieces
  4. Salt as per taste
  5. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  6. Oil – 2 tsps
  7. Curry leaves – one sprig
  8. Water to cook the cabbage – ¼ cup

Ingredients for Making the Lentil Crumble

  1. 1 cup Tur / Arhar Dal / Tuvara Paruppu (In Tamil) or split pigeon pea
  2. 1 cup Chana dal (split bengal gram) or Kadalai paruppu in Tamil
  3. Red chilly – 2-3 nos. broken into pieces

Method to make the lentil crumble

  • Soak the dals together along with red chillies for atleast an hour.
  • PS – If you notice in the pic, I have not added red chillies as I have made a basic crumble which I would be adding to 2-3 different vegetables wherein I would have the option of using either green or red chillies.
  • Discard the water & Grind them coarsely in a mixer grinder.
  • Grease an idli stand with few drops of oil.
  • Place the coarsely ground mixture in the idli moulds & steam them for atleast 10 – 15 mins.
  • Cool the steamed lentil idlis (yes, they will look like that) completely & pulse them in the mixer grinder for a quick second to get a coarse, soft crumble.

Tip – Don’t over pulse the mixture as it turns lumpy. 

Method to make the Cabbage paruppu usili

  • Heat a kadhai or a thick bottom vessel. Add oil, once it heats, add the mustard seeds, red chillies & curry leaves.
  • Once the mustard seeds crackle, add turmeric powder & then add the cabbage & stir it well.
  • Add some water, close the vessel with a lid & cook the cabbage till its almost done.
  • Add salt & stir well.
  • Add enough quantity of the lentil crumble. I would ideally add ½ cup of crumble to ½ a cabbage. You can add more or less according to your taste.
  • Stir once, let it cook a bit on low heat for 5 mins. Switch off the flame & serve it hot with Rasam / Sambar & Rice.
  • IMG_20170901_101604
    The soaked dals ready to be ground & steamed
    Coarsely grind the dal mixture to be steamed
    Pat the dal mixture into the greased idli moulds to be steamed


Notes –

    • You can store this lentil crumble for 2 days in your refrigerator.
    • Add it to a variety of vegetables like french beans, broad beans, banana stem, Banana flower, Raw bananas. They provide a healthy dose of protein along with the vegetables. Especially useful for days when you don’t have time to make dal but want to ensure the daily dose of protein for the family.
  • Ideal for kids as they usually avoid eating dal.

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Vidya Narayan

Views: 931

Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. I love cabbage and prepare stir fry without dals…but this sounds awesome dear!!!! I will try adding dals this time…thanks for sharing!!!!

    1. Usually ppl make usili with french beans or broad beans but i like the combination of soft cabbage with the crumble. Also, healthy option. do try it, im sure you will love it with some hot rasam.

  2. interesting recipe ,lentil crumble is new to me and looks healthy and yum!

  3. Nice idea to make cabbage more interesting !

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