Kootu is the Tamil word for “add” and it typically refers to a dal dish with a variety of vegetables added. Each region of South India will add their own favourites. Chef Chindi Varadarajulu of Grande Bay Resort in Mamallapuram likes to add any combination of ash gourd, squash, pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, broad beans, green or black eyed peas and spinach or leafy greens. The resulting dish is thicker than the ubiquitous sambhar but not as thick as a dry curry.
Vegetable Kootu Recipe
2 - 3 servings
1 bunch of leafy greens (spinach, arugula or baby kale), washed, dried and finely chopped
2 – 3 cups mixed chopped vegetables (steamed)
2 teaspoons diced jalapeno or other green chili – divided
3 teaspoons of garlic, finely sliced – divided
¾ cup moong dal
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
Pinch of cumin seeds
¾ cup finely chopped shallots or small red Indian onions
1 sprig of curry leaves
1 cup cubed tomato
½ teaspoon salt – or to taste
- Cook the leafy greens in a minimal amount of water along with half of the green chilies and half of the garlic.
- Cook the dal in the water until mushy – about 30 minutes.
- Heat the coconut oil in a kadai (wok) and add the cumin seeds. When they pop and splutter, add the onions, and remaining green chilies with the curry leaves and cook and stir until the onions are brown.
- Add the remaining garlic now and stir until cooked and no longer raw tasting – about one minute.
- Stir in the (drained) leafy greens and steamed vegetables followed by the dal and the cubed tomato and mash well with a potato masher.
- Season with salt.
- Serve with rice.
This recipe is courtesy of Grande Bay Resort and Spa in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu.