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!
1/2cupeach of mixed vegetableschayote squash, white and yellow pumpkin, eggplant, ridge gourd, snake gourd, raw plantain are typically used
1small lemon sizedtamarind slabsoaked in warm water
1/2cupcooked, mashed toor dal
Spices to roast and grind into a paste
1/2cupcoconut, gratedfrozen or fresh
Cook toor dal and mash.
Soak and extract juice from tamarind and keep ready
Chop all vegetables into chunks (cube shaped).
I used these vegetables
Gather spices for roasting, and roast in a tsp of oil - starting with teh dal and coriander seeds, red chilies and finally coconut.
Color should be golden brown, and aromatic when done.
Cook the vegetables, starting with the tough ones - snake gourd takes the longest to cook. Potato and chayote squash go next. The pumpkins, raw plantain, sweet potato all cook very quickly. Add vegetables to the same water, every few minutes (2-3 minutes). Total time would be roughly 8-10 minutes total, to cook all of them. You can also cook individually. I did it in the Instant pot, and some got overcooked.
While the veggies are cooking, blend the roasted spices with water to a thick paste, and extract tamarind juice
Add tamarind extract, salt for the dish, and spice blend to the cooked vegetables and boil for a few minutes.
Add cooked dal, and mix from bottom to top very well, and cook for a few minutes, taking care not to let the dal stick to the bottom
Pop the mustard seeds in a tsp of hot oil in the same kadai used for roasting the spices, once the mustard seeds pop, add the hing, chili and methi seeds, and turn the heat off
Pour over the kootu
Enjoy with hot steaming rice and papad for a completely balanced meal!
This is one of the recipes of the famous Meenakshi Ammal, who wrote cook books for newly married girls in her family in the 60s. Her recipes are legendary, and are available in Tamil (Samaithu Paar), and English (Cook and See), in 3 volumes. As a newly wed who didn't even know how to make rice properly, I developed and honed my culinary skills on her books, and they're dog-eared, and well worn, and loved! I still refer to her recipes to if I want to know the traditional way of cooking!