Cabbage and bean with fresh coconut

Mr Todiwala's Bombay
Helen Cathcart

Foogath just means any vegetable dish cooked with curry leaves and coconut. The Portuguese word refogado stood for something cooked in oil, and I believe foogath stemmed from this. It is often made just with cabbage or beans but I love the combination of both as a delicious side dish.

It is also delicious as a light snack meal with hot crusty rolls.


Quantity Ingredient
2/3 coconuts, freshly grated
or 150g desiccated coconut
250-300g cabbage
250g french beans
2 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 whole red chillies, cut into 1 cm pieces
2 onions, thinly sliced
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt, to taste
few drops lime juice, to taste
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, chopped


  1. If using desiccated coconut, soak in 150 ml water for 1 hour until soft and rehydrated and the water is absorbed.
  2. Shred the cabbage after removing the core and any thick stalks. Top and tail the beans and cut in 2.5 cm pieces. Do not mix the two vegetables.
  3. Heat the oil in a casserole or heavy-based saucepan and, when hazy, add the mustard seeds. After they stop crackling, reduce the heat to medium, add the curry leaves, the cumin and the red chilli pieces.
  4. Sauté for a minute and add the sliced onions and sauté until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or two then add the turmeric and the cabbage.
  5. Sauté the cabbage for a minute or two and then add the coconut. Sauté for 4–5 minutes, by this time the cabbage will be more than half done, then mix in the French beans and check the seasoning. Cook for a further 2 minutes or until the beans are just tender but still have some ‘bite’ and remain bright green.
  6. Sprinkle with a few drops of lime juice and add the coriander. Cover the pan, remove from the heat and leave covered for 4–5 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
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