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Archive for the ‘kootu’ Category

Harvesting tomatoes that were never sown!

Around five years back, I suddenly planned a  face lift for our small garden area. After cleaning up the garden I bought a nice pot to be used as compost pit. We collected the vegetable and fruit waste in this pot and used it as manure. I used to throw the rotten tomatoes as well.

In our new duplex home we made planters on the compound wall and the parapet wall. My hubby mixed soil with the compost we had collected over the years  and planted some rose cuttings. After around two weeks the planters were filled with tomato plants. We re potted them and have harvested over 100 tomatoes till now. Another hundred can be plucked in a week:).

Thakkali Koottu (Tomato koottu )

Cooking with home grown vegetables is very satisfying and you know there are no artificial fertilizers or pesticides. The aroma of freshly plucked vegetables is heavenly.

Ingredients

  • Raw tomatoes – 6 to 8
  • Moong dal – 1/4 cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste

For the paste

  • Grated coconut – 1 tbs
  • Coriander seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal – 1 tsp
  • Channa dal – 1 tsp
  • Hing – a small piece
  • Red-chili –  1 no
  • Oil – 1 tsp

For  the seasoning

  • Ghee – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 5 nos
  • Red chilli – 1 no

Method

  1. Slice the tomatoes into long pieces.Place in a MW safe bowl and mix with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. MW high for 5 minutes
  2. Pressure cook the moong dal with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder.
  3. Roast the ingredients for the paste except coconut in 1 tsp oil, add coconut and grind to a smooth paste.
  4. Add cooked moong dal, ground paste and salt to the tomatoes and mix well.Add a little water to get Koottu consistency.
  5. Mw high for 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. Cut the red chili into small pieces.
  7. Heat 1 tsp ghee and add the mustard seeds and red chili; when the mustard crackles add the curry leaves. Add  the seasoning to the koottu.

Serve as a side dish for rotis,phulkas or rice.

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Mor Kootu is a yogurt based gravy that is often used with a few vegetables – cabbage, ash gourd, taro, cucumber and vazha tandu (stem of the plantain). It’s not a raita, its not a Mor Kozhambu, or an avial. It has a distinct taste and personality of its own. Although I am not really aware of its history much, I think this was specially invented by the Maamis to help us cool off on the rather hot summer days that we have to suffer.

Ingredients

  • Ash Gourd – 200-250 gms
  • Curd – 1 cup (1/2 cup more if you want more gravy)
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Hing – 1/4 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste

For the paste

  • Coconut – 1/4 cup cut pieces or scraped
  • Cumin – 1 tsp
  • Green Chilly – 1 nos

For the tempering

  • Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry Leaves – 4-5 nos.
  • Red Chilly – 1 no.
  • Oil – 1 tsp

Method

  1. Wash, Peel and cut Ash gourd into cubes. Parboil the ash gourd cubes with turmeric and hing. In a microwave this should take about 4 minutes on high.
  2. Grind the ingredients for the paste coarsely with very little water.
  3. Add this to the parboiled Ash Gourd pieces and cook for a minute.
  4. Beat the curd, add salt and mix well.
  5. Reduce the flame to low and add curd. Simmer for a minute – be careful not to over heat, the yogurt should not separate. Take off flame and transfer to serving dish.
  6. Heat oil in the tempering ladle or vessel – pop the mustard seeds, add curry leaves and red chilly broken into two and toast. Add this tempering to the Ash gourd kootu.

Notes:

  1. Use thick curd that isn’t sour. Although many recipes call for sour curds, IMHO Kootus are not meant to be sour. They are meant to tease your senses with subtle notes of spices and flavourings used.
  2. Mor Kootu works as both a gravy to mix with rice and a dish on the side. The quantity of curd added can vary depending on how much gravy you’d like the kootu.
  3. The oil that one uses for tempering can be used to enhance the flavour. I used coconut oil which worked very well.
  4. It tastes like a piece of heaven when chilled. You’d be able to savour this experience completely only if you live in parts as hot as mine. (I live in Chennai)

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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Vegetables simmered in a midly flavoured gravy which is usually lentil based is perhaps the closest I can get to describing what a Kootu is. Kootus are the goodness of vegetables with the best combination and right proportion of spices that don’t attack your taste buds with the sourness of a sambar. Kootus come in very handy to answer most of these existential questions one needs to answer in the kitchen, like “What do I cook today?” or “Now what does one do with this vegetable that doesn’t even have a name?”. Kootus come in many avatars – there’s Poricha Kootu, Pal Kootu, Mor Kootu, Puli Kootu, Varutha Araitha Kootu, Araitha Vitta Kootu and Thenga Pal Kootu. And then for flavourings one can add or subtract from the basic spices, toast and grind, toast and simmer or soak and grind. The choice of lentils though usually Moong Dal, could also be Toor Dal or Channa Dal or a combination of dals.

Ash Gourd Kootu

Ingredients

  • Moong Dal – 1/2 cup
  • Vegetable/s – 200-250 gms
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Hing (asafoetida) – 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee or Oil – 1 tsp

For flavouring, to be toasted and ground

  • Urad Dal – 1 tsp
  • Channa Dal – 1 tsp
  • Coriander Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Black Peppercorns – 1/4 tsp
  • Red Chillies – 2 nos.
  • Whole Hing (asafoetida) – a small piece
  • Grated Coconut – 2 tbsp (rounded)
  • Ghee or Oil – 1 tsp

Method

  1. Toast all the ingredients for the flavouring paste except coconut in ghee/oil till the dals turn golden. Take off flame and add coconut and keep aside to cool. Blend into a smooth thick paste with a couple of tablespoons of water if required.
  2. Pressure Cook the Moong Dal in enough water. Par boil the vegetables with turmeric and hing in a microwave safe container.
  3. In a deep vessel, heat oil/ ghee pop the mustard seeds, add the vegetables (parboil at this stage if you’re not using the microwave). Add the moong dal followed by the paste. Mix well and simmer on a low flame till the kootu starts to bubble.
  4. Add salt, simmer for an additional minute and take off flame.

Other Recipe Marathoners:

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