Kootu Recipe From Southern India
This simple and delicious kootu is great for adding more vegetables and sprouts to your diet—and for sneaking more veggies into your kids' diets, too. Packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals, this dish is satisfying and easy to make. It pairs well with rice with some ghee, or with chapatis.
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- 1/2 cup toor dal (pigeon pea lentils), washed and soaked for 10 to 15 minutes
- 2–3 cups fresh water, to soak lentils and to prepare sambar
- 1 tablespoon tamarind
- 1/2 cup mixed sprouts (I used chana and horse gram sprouts)
- 1 cup mixed vegetables (I used broad beans, carrots, bottle gourd, and cucumber)
- 1–2 whole ripe tomatoes
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (or dry coconut)
- 1 teaspoon urad dal (split black gram)
- 4–5 Byadagi red chilies, for color
- 1–2 Guntur red chilies, for spice
- 1 teaspoon jaggery, or to taste
- 1–2 teaspoons oil, to temper
- 1–2 tablespoons peanuts
- 1–2 strings fresh curry leaves
- In a bowl or vessel, add the toor dal (pigeon pea lentils). Rinse and soak in water for 10 to 15 minutes. (Soaking the lentils makes them cook more quickly. You can skip this step if you prefer.)
- In a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of tamarind pulp and soak in little water. (Soaking makes the pulp soft. If you are using tamarind paste, skip this step.) Set aside.
- In a bowl, take all sprouts and wash them. Set aside. (I used chana or chickpeas, horse gram sprouts, and some seeds of jack fruit. You can use any sprouts or skip it altogether.)
- Wash and chop all the vegetables you are using. Set aside. (I used broad beans, carrots, bottle gourd, and pumpkin. You can use any vegetables you want.)
- In a cooker, add all of the vegetables and sprouts. Drain off water from the pigeon peas and add them to the cooker. Add enough water to just immerse the vegetables. Add 1–2 ripe tomatoes (no need to chop them). Add a little salt. Close the cooker and take 3–4 whistles. (You can cook vegetables, sprouts, and lentils separately. I cooked them together to expedite the process.)
- Grate 1/2 cup of fresh coconut and set aside (or you can use dry coconut).
- In a frying pan, dry-fry the urad dal (split black gram), Byadagi red chilies (to give color), and Guntur red chilies (to give spiciness). Fry over low heat till the urad dal turns golden and the red chilies turn crisp.
- Add the grated coconut and saute briefly for about 1 minute. Switch off the flame. Let it cool down completely.
- When the pressure of the cooker settles naturally, open the lid and take out the cooked tomatoes. Let it cool down.
- After the spice-coconut mixture and tomatoes are cool enough, transfer them to the mixer jar, add soaked tamarind and jaggery and grind to a smooth and thick paste without adding water (or use a very small amount of water). Set aside.
- Transfer the cooked vegetable-sprout-lentil mixture to a vessel, add ground paste, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add water to get the required consistency (this kootu is of a thick to medium consistency), add salt if required, and bring it to a rolling boil. Switch off the heat.
- In a frying pan, heat the oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Add the peanuts and fry till golden and crisp. Add fresh curry leaves and switch off the heat. Add this seasoning to the prepared kootu.
- Serve this kootu with rice and ghee on top or chapatis.
- Instead of fresh coconut, you can use dry coconut to enhance the flavor.
- Add vegetables of your choice.
- You can make this kootu using only vegetables and skip the sprouts altogether.
- Overcooking the vegetables will make them mushy.
- You can use any vegetables like carrots, potato, brinjal, pumpkin, snake gourd, beans, ash gourd, and legumes like black-eyed peas, green peas, black chickpeas, peanuts, and so on.
- Increase or decrease the number of red chilies according to your preference.
- You can add tamarind paste directly to kootu.
- You can cook vegetables and lentil-sprouts mixture separately. But cooking everything in the cooker saves time.
- The same recipe can be followed to prepare the kootu using any single vegetable of your choice.