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.
- 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
- 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.
- Pressure Cook the Moong Dal in enough water. Par boil the vegetables with turmeric and hing in a microwave safe container.
- 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.
- Add salt, simmer for an additional minute and take off flame.
Other Recipe Marathoners:
- Ranji – Puttu with Kadala Curry
- Swati – Paneer Jalfrezi
- Bhags – Red Pepper Hummus
- Dhivya – Couscous dunked in vegetables
- Siri – Tindora Dondakaya
- Divya – Tomatillo Salsa
- Srivalli – Raw Mango Sevai
- Raaga – Ridge Gourd thuvayal
- Arundathi – Cook up Rice (National dish of Guyana)