Cabbage Paruppu Usili and 10 (More) Honest Things About Me

Cabbage Paruppu UsiliIf you’re Tamil or if you have read this blog for any length of time, you know all about Paruppu Usili, the side dish that makes healthy eating both decadent and delicious.

But if this is the first time you’ve heard about it, trust me, you’re in for a treat.

There’s really no way you can go wrong with this really simple, very traditional dish that rolls in the wonderfulness of veggies — all kinds of them– with the rich, nutty flavor of tiny lentil dumplings. I may have said this before on Holy Cow! but I’ll say it again– paruppu usili is perhaps my most favorite of all the amazing South Indian comfort foods I’ve learned from being married to a Tamil guy.

The basic paruppu usili paste for the dumplings (or rather crumbles) is a very simple one, and I often tweak it slightly to add more flavor to the vegetable I am using. For instance, I add a smidgen– or more– of garlic to my Broccoli Paruppu Usili, or sometimes I just go plain as with my Green Beans Paruppu Usili. In today’s Cabbage Paruppu Usili, I added a teaspoon or so of sambar powder which took no effort but produced an amazing flavor.

Here it is, then. And if you’d like to learn something more about me, keep reading after the recipe to find out 10 more honest things about me. More because I had already done this meme in the past, but Champa aka Bangalorebaker tagged me this time.

I met Champa when she first wrote to me last year– at the time she was not blogging yet, but she was always coming up with great recipe ideas. Over time we became good friends. Check out her blog, if you haven’t already– in a few short months this energetic and creative baker has turned it into a rich resource filled with delicious recipes.

Cabbage Paruppu Usili


Cabbage Paruppu Usili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A delicious Tamil recipe for a cabbage side dish flavored with a few simple spices and lentils.
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Tamil
  • ½ head cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp udad dal (black gram dal)
  • Soak together for an hour: ¼ cup chana dal (bengal gram dal) and ¼ cup tuvar dal
  • Place the dals in a blender, add enough water to keep the blades moving, and grind to a fine paste along with:
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A generous pinch of asafetida (hing)
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 tsp sambar powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  1. Remove the dal paste to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes. The paste would be cooked on top. Turn over with a spoon so the uncooked paste on the bottom is now on the top and microwave 2 more minutes.Set aside.
  2. In a cast-iron or non-stick skillet, heat the oil.
  3. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they sputter, add udad dal and stir, allowing the dal to brown lightly, about 30 seconds to a minute.
  4. Add the cabbage and some salt. Stir-fry the cabbage on medium heat until it is beginning to get tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Now, with your fingers, crumble the dal paste into the skillet over the cabbage.
  6. Continue to stir-fry the cabbage until it is quite tender but has a slight bite, and the dal dumplings are a couple of shades darker.
  7. Check salt and turn off heat.
  8. Enjoy!


And, if you’re still reading, here are 10 honest things about me:

1. When I registered my first blog with Blogger way back in 2006, I wanted to write a political blog. That plan never took off and it was more than a year later that I decided to change course and write a food blog instead. I can’t say I’m sorry I did!

2. The name, Holy Cow!, was Desi’s idea, although I don’t mind taking credit for it :).

3. As much as I love animals, I am deathly afraid of roaches. The big, creepy kinds that leave you with an icky feeling on your skin. Of course, Desi always reminds me that they are far smaller and helpless and therefore more fearful of me than I am of them, and that does put things in perspective. :)

4. I lack the ability to organize and plan and to date it is the one quality I wish I had the most. It would make life so much easier. Sigh.

5. I love the company of friends, but I hate parties with dozens of people making impersonal small talk. The kinds of gatherings I most enjoy are intimate ones with just a few good friends, great vegan food, and stimulating conversation.

6. If there’s anything I love after reading and writing, it’s the movies. Not Bollywood ones, as I pointed out in my last 10 Honest Things About Me list, nor most Hollywood stuff, really, which is almost as bad. Instead, I love slice-of-life movies from around the world that give you a small window into the lives of people who could be real, and their experiences– it’s almost as good as traveling. And although I am not one to watch chick flicks, I do make an exception for epic romances with deep, dark, brooding heroes like Omar Sharif, Laurence Olivier and Daniel Day Lewis.

7. Here’s a peeve about Facebookers and Twitterers: I indulge in social networking platforms a little bit because can you avoid them? And staying in touch and sharing relevant information is great, but, frankly, do we really need to know you went for a jog this morning?

8. I am a huge believer in the work to live, not live to work theory. I enjoy my job, and I give it 100 percent, but if I could, I’d retire tomorrow and spend the rest of my days doing all the stuff I love, like traveling, growing and cooking and eating lots of great vegan food, reading all the books I ever wanted to, educating people about how wonderful and smart animals really are, and helping homeless and destitute animals.

9. I am a morning person. In fact, I can’t understand why some people aren’t. Mornings are when I am at my best– my mind is clearest, I am the most motivated to get things done, and I feel happiest. As the day moves on, I tend to settle…almost literally!

10. I love being a couch potato and I watch more television than I should, although I tell myself it’s a great educational tool. I love edgy shows like Entourage and Psych, and smartly funny ones like Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I develop withdrawal symptoms when my favorite news shows like Colbert Report, Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Real Time with Bill Maher go on breaks. On the other hand, I have neither the patience for nor any interest in reality TV.
Since you were patient enough to sit through those, you deserve a reward. And I can’t think of a better one than this super-cute picture of my super-cute Lucy whose latest favorite thing to do is try to eat all the time. So the minute I walk into the kitchen she’s right there, sitting at my feet, looking at me with big, melting eyes.

She’s really smart and she’s figured out ways to wangle out more than her share. For instance, I usually give the dogs a treat when they come back inside after playing in the backyard. Now,  several times a day, she’ll ask to go back, just wait at the door for a couple of minutes without actually going down, and then come back in and make a beeline for the shelf where her treats are. She’ll sit next to the shelf, bark, then turn and look at the box of treats. This will go on until the time I break down and give in. Desi, who insists I am spoiling her, is not much better at resisting her charms either. :)

Those dogs!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Get new recipes by email. Sign up below.


  1. says

    I love Patoli (paruppu usili in telugu), but rarely make it as the prep time of steaming the dals seemed to long for me. But ur microwaving it is a genius idea. I’ll be making this dish pretty soon.
    Have a wonderful week ahead.

  2. says

    Thanks for the education about a new (to me) food. I will have to get some ingredients before I can try it, but if the picture is any indication, I really should give it a go!
    Adorable pups too! I love reading about how smart peoples pets are and it always amazes me when I hear people who think animals are stupid, so far from the truth! :)

  3. says

    I enjoyed reading more about you, Vaishali. Like you, I am a morning person and a TV junkie, but unlike you, I watch a bit (OK, a lot) of reality TV, such gems like Idol and Teen Mom…

    But I can’t believe you don’t want to know that I went for a jog this morning! LOL

  4. says


    I have not made it yet, so this is a good one for me to try out. I liked 10 more things to know about you. It is always great to know more about the person on the blog! Great to know you more.

  5. says

    Your dog sounds so cute! I too am crazy about paruppu usili with any vegetable…love yours with cabbage, I love this with rice and rasam, best combination for me :) It was nice reading about you Vaishali :)

  6. says

    I love parppu usili so much, same pinch…need to give this a try with cabbage. Enjoyed reading wo things about you, I am morning person as well…yeah I cud’ agree with you more, fresh and clear.:)

    He is adorabe…

  7. Madhu says

    hi vaishali,
    paruppu usili is one of my all time favorite recipe, but feel lazy to do it ‘coz i used to just mix the raw dal paste along with the veggies and let it get cooked… which took really long time to get it to the correct consistency…. but the idea of cooking it in the microwave for few mins works the miracle and the time taken for the the dish becomes a breeze :)thanks for the tip and this yummy recipe!!

  8. Venkat says

    I am not as good a cook as you are.. so thank you for the recipe.. I do love Paruppu usili. More importantly, I liked the 10 things about you – its more like me!!

  9. Hasita says

    So far I have made usilis (or patoli as we call it) only with french beans. I’m going to try your recipe today. I always crave comfort food on winter evenings :)

  10. says

    Question about TSP of the Udad dal. Udad is often called for in dishes i prepare and it always comes out too hard to bite/chew. I am using the whole black udad dal? perhaps i need to soak or brown it longer because it is always left much too hard. am I doing something wrong?

    • says

      The whole black udad dal is too big to be cooked properly during the tempering process. You need to use the split white dal without the black coating which is also available in Indian stores. No need to soak the dal.

Leave a comment!