Varavu/ upperi/ thoran are simple, no-fuss side dishes made with a variety of vegetables. A typical kerala lunch will include one or two varavu along with the main curries. Carrot, cabbage, beans, beetroot, spinach, raw plaintain, radish, drumstick leaf....so goes the list of vegetables that can be cooked into a varavu. The spices vary depending upon the vegetable you are using; the basic cooking method remains the same. The most difficult part of this dish is in chopping the vegetables, and so cabbage easily wins the popularity contests of varavu.
Cabbage, chopped: 1 cup
One or two slices of red onion
Green chilli/ dry red chilli : 1
Mustard seeds: ¼ tsp
Cumin seeds: ¼ tsp
Oil : 2 t
Oil-mustard seeds- cumin seeds – dry red chili- cabbage-salt-stir-cover-cook on low heat for 5 minutes- done!
A pinch of turmeric will get you a nice sunny varavu. You can also add a little urad dal or nuts to the tadka for an extra crunch. Some like to add a little, about 1 T, of fresh coconut to this varavu just before taking off heat.
This is one of my favorites.
Carrots and beans , cut into thin strips: 1 cup
Red onion, coarsely ground : 2 T
Garlic , minced: 1 clove
Fennel seeds , crushed : a pinch
Mustard seeds: 1/ 4 tsp
Dry red chilli: 1
Oil: 2 tsp
Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, let splutter tim tim timtimtim. Add the onion paste minced garlic, and dry red chili: cook until it turns slightly brown in color.
Now let the carrot-bean strips tumble down into the pan, mix well to coat the strips with onion-garlic paste. Sprinkle salt, and cook uncovered on low flame for about 5 minutes, or till desired tenderness. I like to add a dash of crushed fennel seed at the end, to lift up the flavors.