Monday, September 2, 2013

Toshanaya Kapusta (Braised Cabbage)

When I was little, my mom used to make a few Russian dishes with cabbage, namely Borscht and Toshanaya Kapusta. While I played in my room or did homework, she would chop the cabbage leafs until she hit the core. However, instead of reaching the center and tossing it, my mom would peel away at the cabbage core until she was left with a little white stalk, no bigger than a finger. She'd yell for me to come get the 'kachanchik'! I would abruptly stop whatever I was doing and run to the kitchen to eat this crunchy treat that has the texture of a water chestnut or raw potato. I devoured it with such excitement, you'd think I was just given a scoop of the best ice cream ever created. However, I know that it really wasn't ever about the taste of the kachanchik, rather it was knowing that my mom would always reserve this special treat for me. Now, as I hacked away at a head of cabbage on my own, I tried to find the kachanchik with no luck! Somehow, mom just knows exactly where to keep cutting so all that remains is the edible portion. 

The recipe that follows can be served hot or cold as a delicious side dish to accompany any meat such as our favorite chicken cutlets or a hearty beef stew (recipe coming soon!). It is extremely simple once the cabbage gets shredded.

Yes, that is a measuring cup full of ketchup. Russians like it.

Once the cabbage is shredded, the onions are sliced, and the carrots are grated, we're ready to get cookin'. First, saute the onions in a large pot until they are develop a translucent brown color. I added a few chili pepper flakes for some spice (Russians would not do this).

When those start to look good, add the cabbage to the pot. Although it will seem as though the cabbage is taking over and there is no room for it to cook, it will cook down and significantly shrink in size so you will not have to worry about overflowing your pot! After the cabbage shrinks, you can add all the other ingredients and simply let the mixture simmer with the lid on. Quick and easy and great! I encourage you to try this, but more importantly, try to find the kachanchik! 

Toshanaya Kapusta (Braised cabbage)


1 head cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, grated
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1.) Fry the onion until tender and golden
2.) Add onion to a large pott with shredded cabbage and grated carrots
3.) Sauté over medium-low heat until all vegetables are soft and cooked through
4.) Add ketchup and raisins (if using)
5.) Simmer cabbage mixture for about 20 minutes, mixing from time to time

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