In times of crisis food provides a source of comfort, wherever in the world you may be. In her first column for AnOthermag.com, the New York-based artist Laila Gohar celebrates cabbage with a meditative ode to the “unsung hero”
In trying times, food can be a salve. Laila Gohar, a conceptual New York-based artist who has created food installations for clients including Comme des Garçons, Simone Rocha and Frieze Art Fair, has provided comfort with an Instagram account espousing the simple pleasures of cooking, from beans to chicken soup. Here, in her first column for AnOther, she offers a recipe for cabbage rolls – “versatile, nutritious, inexpensive” – as well as spotlighting a cause to support as the food industry enters a new, uncertain future.
Cabbage is an unsung hero as far as I’m concerned. It’s extremely versatile, nutritious, inexpensive, and can last a long time. I also find rolling the cabbage leaves to be very meditative. These cabbage rolls are not as saucy as usual, they’re on the lighter side as I enjoy tasting the cabbage itself.
Step one: Combine one cup of short grain rice with one finely chopped onion, a couple minced cloves of garlic, one tablespoon tomato paste, and a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (if you don’t have it just squeeze in half a lemon). Salt and pepper.
Step two: Bring a big pot of water to boil and add a quarter cup of salt. Once boiling, put the cabbage inside and boil for a couple minutes then take it out and put it in some cold water to cool off. At this point the leaves should pull away easily. Start with the first leaf.
Step three: Place a tablespoon of the rice filling in the lower area of the leaf and roll over itself then fold in the edges and continue to roll. If the leaves are too big cut them in half. If you find that after a while the leaves are too hard repeat the boiling process to soften. If there are any tough veiny parts just cut them out with a knife. Save those parts.
Step four: Once you’ve finished rolling, chop an onion into thick rings and place along with the saved veiny cabbage parts in the bottom of a heavy pot (this is to prevent the rolls from burning when they are in the pot). In a circular formation place the rolled cabbage on top, so they are all hugging. Put a smaller plate directly on top to keep them snug.
Step five: Now, cover the pot with a lid and place in a 350 degree fahrenheit (180 degree celsius) oven for 30 minutes. Then add a cup of warm water – or stock or bean stock – and continue cooking, covered, for another 40 minutes to an hour. The rolls are done when the rice is tender.
More than ever, I think it’s important to support all small businesses, and especially food businesses, so I will use this space to highlight one cause or entity with each recipe.
Food businesses have had to shut down overnight and don’t have the cash flow to stay afloat. That is the nature of the restaurant business. And it goes beyond restaurants – farms and food distributors have lost their income as a result of restaurants shuttering. Natoora, a produce distributor, provides some of the best chefs in the world with high-quality produce. If you live in London or New York they are now offering home delivery service in order to save produce from going to waste. You can order all sorts of wonderful fruit and vegetables (including cabbage), which they will deliver the next day.
Visit Natoora’s website here.