Cabbage Thoran

Of all the Kerala thorans, cabbage has got to be my favorite! It’s spicy, salty, and slightly sweet due to the cabbage and coconut.

So you might be asking, what exactly is thoran?

Thoran is a South Indian dish made by sautéing vegetables (or sometimes meat or fish) with coconut, ginger, chilies, etc. It’s a dry style of curry similar to a stir fry.

It’s super easy to prepare and cooks quickly.

My mom used to make a variety of thorans like spinach, black eyed peas, beet root, etc. But her cabbage thoran recipe is one of my favorites and probably easiest to make.

How to Make Cabbage Thoran

Though this recipe can be made with different vegetables, what makes it thoran are the coconut and chilies which give it its distinctive flavor.

For coconut, my mom suggests using only 1-2 tablespoons, whereas many thoran recipes ask for lots of coconut, sometimes 1 1/2 cups! I prefer somewhere in the middle.

In regards to chili, my parents have used either minced green chili or whole red chili. For extra heat, use both!

The measurements below are only guidelines, not meant to be followed exactly. For example, some recipes use cumin and some don’t.

The great thing about thoran is you don’t need to have every single ingredient nor the exact amounts; it will still taste delicious, as long as you add that coconut!

other thoran Variations:

What My Kids Say:
10 year-old: “I like this because the cabbage is crunchy and spicy, and I like the taste of the mustard seeds.”
8 year-old: “I like it because it is healthy for you and it is delicious.”

here are Other indian vegetable dishes to try

Indian Green Beans
Mildly spiced Kerala style green beans with mustard seeds, chili, and caramelized onions and garlic.
Check out this recipe
Closeup skillet with Indian green beans, curry leaves, chili pepper.
Indian Corn on the Cob
Sweet corn with a spicy and tangy kick!
Check out this recipe
Plate of 2 corn on the cob withs spices, cilantro, and lime wedges.
Kabocha Curry with Black Eyed Peas
A savory and sweet Kerala curry made with kabocha, black-eyed peas, coconut, chilies, and spices.
Check out this recipe
Bowl of kabocha curry with black eyed peas, cilantro.

Joby's Test Kitchen skillet with yellow cabbage thoran.

Cabbage Thoran

Joby’s Test Kitchen
A Kerala favorite, this thoran is made with cabbage, chilies, and coconut.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 106 kcal


  • ½ head cabbage, shredded or sliced thinly
  • 1-3 tsps oil
  • ¼-½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼-½ tsp cumin seed, optional
  • 1-2 whole dry red chilies, optional
  • ¼-½ small-medium onion, minced
  • 1 medium green chili, minced (e.g. serrano)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced, optional
  • ½ inch piece ginger, minced, optional
  • small handful fresh curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2-6 tbsps fresh grated coconut
  • ½-¾ tsp salt or to taste


  • Heat oil in skillet. Then add mustard seeds, and when they start popping, add red chili and cumin seeds (if using). Sauté for about 1 minute more.
  • Then add onions, green, turmeric, curry leaves, and coconut. Sauté until golden about 5-8 minutes.
  • Finally add cabbage and cover for a few minutes. Remove lid, and continue cooking until the cabbage has cooked down but is still crisp.


Coconut: My parents always used fresh coconut when making Kerala dishes. If you don’t have any, dried unsweetened coconut will also work. Make sure to soak it overnight in a little water.
Keyword cabbage, chilies, coconut, Kerala, thoran

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