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.
This is one of the simplest curries, with minimum ingredients and comes together in literally 10 minutes, after prep. Pairs excellent with rotis. I love to just eat it like a soup. The mild tasting, water-laden lauki/doodhi/sorakai is satisfying in its rustic simplicity. Requires no onion, garlic or complicated masalas.
It is known as bottle gourd in English. Cooks very quickly.
This recipe is from Allison, who has been dating my son for about 31/2 years now. Allison is vegan, and a big fan of cooking and eating Indian food. She can polish off a big bag of bhel mix all by herself. This was one of the first recipes she made with/for my son, and has also made for us one Thanksgiving.
What do you do with leftover idlis? The people who came up with idlis of course thought about this, and came up with Idli Upma! Nothing wasted. Repurpose everything, in the most delicious way! One day old idlis work wonderfully for this dish. My family loves this dish so much that sometimes my mom (and me, now) make idlis just to make idli upma the next day for breakfast!
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