This is a basic, beginner recipe. No frills, no fancy, just a simple dal. Only, you don’t need 2 pots – one to cook the dal in, one to add the seasonings. It’s all one pot, turn it on, set the timer and forget it. When done, add tempering, and salt. Total comfort food, ready in about 25 mins (including pressure release time).
This kootu, also known as thiruvadirai kootu is a medley of a minimum of 7 vegetables, made on the day of Arudra darshan in the month of margazhi/December, in honor of lord Shiva. Traditionally it’s accompanied by a sweet rice dish called Kali. It’s made with the freshest produce of the season, which is the winter season, and includes squashes, gourds, and root vegetables. This recipe is sourced from Meenakshi Ammal’s Samaithu Par book. It is a completely balanced dish, loaded with vegetables, protein (dal), fat (coconut), spices and tamarind for sourness. On to the recipe now!
Kuzhambu means a thick mix/slurry. True to its name, this kuzhambu is a spicy thick gravy with a tamarind base, with a few vegetables, and dal. The difference between vathal kuzhambu, kara kuzhambu and this is that this has cooked dal added to it. Then why is it not sambar? Good question. We use a pre-made spice powder to season this dish, whereas for sambar, we freshly roast and grind spices to make the masala. Also, this is a bit thicker than sambar.
So, as far as tamarind based gravies go, there are mainly 3 kinds in Tamil (brahmin) cooking:
Vatha kuzhambu/kara kuzhambu: no dal, limited vegetables, more oil and almost like a pickle
Sambar: Tamarind, dal, vegetables, freshly roasted and ground masala
Kuzhambu: Thick tamarind gravy, premade masala/spice powder, dal, limited vegetables.
Sometimes you just have to have rasam. But you don’t have prepared rasam powder. This tangy, spicy rasam is just for those times. Made with simple every day ingredients in every kitchen, this just hits the spot for those rainy cold days when all you want is rasam, and won’t settle for anything else!
A simple side for pooris/chapathis/rotis. Minimal ingredients, no fuss, rustic side dish. This can quickly become a go to dish, it’s vegan, and needs no garlic or onions. All you need is potatoes, tomatoes and a few staple spices that most pantries would have.