How to 17 : Make Alternative fried Onions

Looks pretty convincing, huh? (From a distance)
Why would you need an alternative to onions? You might ask- well, as many of you will already know, at The Yogi Vegetarian we promote the sattvic, yogic diet which precludes onions and garlic (also leeks and chives). If you click on the above link you will get a brief explanation of why. One of the questions I am most often asked is how to adapt a favourite vegetarian or vegan recipe that starts off- as so many do- with frying onions. Well here is the answer- use this alternative, made from white cabbage, salt and some seasonings. Hing (asafoetida) lends the pungency and the cabbage the sulphurous notes. The sweetness of fried onions can be easily emulated by using something like agave nectar. (I have tried unrefined brown sugar but it can stick to the pan and become scorched.)

This recipe makes the equivalent of 2 chopped fried onions:
225g white cabbage
2 tabs oil (coconut or rice bran are both stable at frying temperature)
1 1/2 rounded tsps hing
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tab dark soy sauce
1 scant 1/2 tsp seasalt (depends on the strength of the soy sauce)

1: Gather your ingredients together...

2: Shred the cabbage so that it resembles sliced onion in size and shape.

3: Gently stir-fry the cabbage in the oil over a medium heat, until it is just starting to brown.

4: It should be beginning to soften, like this.

5: Add the rest of the ingredients, soy sauce last. 

6: After a few minutes, your fried onions cabbage will look like this. You can now continue with your recipe as normal.
With this particular batch, I added some spices and a dash more oil, some fresh tomatoes and lots of chopped veg and turned them into a curry. You could add them to veggieburgers or hot dogs along with the relishes and salad, or add some chopped fresh chillis to the pan then garnish your favourite dal with them. They are also a good way to start off a home made soup.


  1. I love fried cabbages and onions. My gf is Ukrainian, and she would make these with potatoes, nothing else other than sunflower oil.

  2. I am ALL about making veggies look and taste like other veggies :-). And I am always looking for new ways to make/eat cabbage because I just don't eat it all that often. These look great and very simple to make.

    1. Glad you like this one- it is easy to make, and fun to see if anyone spots what you did instead of onions! Another one is disguising pumpkin as tomato in soup: once liquidised, add the "onions" lots of sweet paprika, lemon juice and then more hing, pepper, bayleaf and basil. I once fooled my pumpkin-hating kids like this when they were little ;)

  3. very nice alternative :) I use cabbage in vadai's instead of onion they are a great alternative indeed :)

  4. Thanks for the positive feedback guys- I was wondering if anyone would like this post...


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