Kootu means mix in general, and is a typical side dish famous in Tamil Nadu. It is a medium thick stew made with a dal, a single or mixed vegetables, and a coconut based spice mix. There are different versions of kootu, and this version is called "poricha kootu". It's one of the healthiest dishes in the South Indian cuisine. Eaten with rice, with a side of raita or pickle and papad, it makes a wholesome meal.
You can use either toovar dal or spit moong dal for the lentil.
Any vegetable or combination of the following can be used:
Carrots and peas
Ash gourd (white pumpkin, poosanikai)
Broad beans (avarakai, papdi)
Yellow pumpkin (manjal poosanikai)
1cupCooked toor dhal or yellow split moong dhalSee basics on how to cook toor dhal (red gram) or moong dhal
11/2tspSalt1/2 tsp for the vegetable; 1 tsp for the dish
Ingredients to roast and powder - spice mixture
1tbspSplit or whole white black gram/urad dhal
1tspWhole black pepper
1 or 2Dryred chilies
1/4 - 1/2cupFresh or frozen grated coconutIf using frozen, take it out to thaw about 45 mins prior to cooking
1sprigCurry leavesWash and pat dry
1tspWhite urad dhal/black gram
Chop chayote squash into cubes
Cook red gram or moong dhal according to instructions in the recipe under Basics, and keep ready
Gather ingredients for roasting and powdering
Gather seasoning ingredients and keep ready
Boil the squash in about 1/4 cup of water, with a pinch of turmeric, and 1/2 tsp of salt; about 10 minutes on medium heat. Increase the water if using more quantity of vegetables, just enough to cover.
Watch it to make sure the water does not evaporate completely, making the squash burn. Turn the heat off when the vegetable is fork tender but not overcooked and mushy. It should have a slight bite to it.
While it's cooking, heat a small pan and add the ghee/oil for roasting the spices for the powder. When it's hot, add the spice ingredients one by one, starting with the urad dhal, and black pepper
When the urad dhal starts to turn golden, add the red chilies, curry leaves and coconut and fry till the coconut is toasty and reddish brown, but not burned
Turn the heat off, and transfer to a plate or bowl to cool
When cool enough, make a coarse powder using your favorite blender/spice grinder
Add this spice mixture to the cooked vegetable and mix it well
Add the cooked dhal, and 1 tsp of salt and mix everything well
Turn the heat on to low-medium and cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring to make sure the dhal and the spice mix do not stick to the bottom
Heat 1 tbsp of oil/ghee for the seasoning in a small pan
When hot, add the seasoning ingredients, starting with mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the rest of them and stir with a spoon until the popping slows down, a couple of minutes at the most. Turn the heat off.
Pour over the prepared kootu!
This one is almost always requested by my son whenever he's home.
Kootu is typically eaten with rice, and a side of a spicy vegetable curry such as sweet potato curry, potato curry, plantain curry.
- Cucumber raita/plain yogurt
- Papads - roasted or fried
This version is called poricha kootu, and is a staple in Tamil brahmin kitchens.