Kootu (Koottu) is a type of Kuzhambu, and contains a combination of vegetable combined with Mung Dal and freshly ground mild spices. Varieties of Kootu include Poritha Kootu and Kothsu (Gothsu).
Sometimes Kootu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. It certainly is thicker than Poritha Kuzhambu, with more vegetables. It is generally eaten with rice, without any need for an accompanying vegetable dish. You could say that Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu are very similar, except that Poritha Kootu is made with Mung Dal rather than Toor Dal, has more vegetables and is much thicker than Kuzhambu.
This Kootu is slightly unusual. It uses a little Sambar Powder which is rarely used in Kootu. And although some Kootu recipes contain tamarind, this one does not.
Cumin is considered the defining spice for Kootu. Sometimes pepper is used. Many kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and green chillies paste but this recipe, from Meenakshi Ammal, varies that by using red chillies.
The dish is not spicy – very little spice is used. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetables. You will enjoy it. You can purchase your Sambar Powder at an Indian grocery, or better still, make your own.
As usual, Meenakshi Ammal’s recipe takes some unpicking as it does contradict itself. It always takes a bit of a detective work to unravel the recipes in Vol 1 of her 4 volume set of Cook and See.
In this Koottu I used peas, carrots, potatoes and jicama for the vegetables.
Poritha Koottu with Sambar Powder
source: Cook and See 1 by S. Meenakshi Ammal
Cuisine: South Indian
Prep Time: 3o mins or more to cook dal
Cook Time: around 15 mins
Possible vegetables include Ashgourd, Indian Cucumber, Potatoes, Eggplant, Snake Gourd, Chow Chow, Drumstick, Country Runner Beans. Carrot, Pumpkin, Peas, Zucchini.
You can also use Ridge Gourd, Cluster Beans, Drumstick Leaves and Amaranth leaves and Stems.
0.5 tspn cumin seed (not toasted)
3 dried red chillies
1 Tblspn grated coconut (frozen grated coconut is Ok)
2 tspn ghee
0.5 tspn mustard seeds
0.5 tspn black gram dal (urad dal)
Cook the dal until quite mushy/pastey. This will take around 30 mins unless the dal is old and drier – then it will take longer. When it is cooked, you can partially blend it with an immersion blender if necessary.
Prepare the vegetables and cut into suitable sized pieces. Cook in 0.5 cup of water, adding more if necessary, with the salt and sambar powder. Cook the vegetables well.
Meanwhile, grind the cumin seeds, chillies and coconut to a fine powder. You can add a little water to make a paste if desired.
Add the cooked dal to the vegetables, adding some water if the mixture needs to be thinned, and let the mixture boil well. Add the ground coconut paste and mix well.
Add the asafoetida and stir, then turn off the heat. Garnish with the curry leaves.
Make the tadka by heating the ghee in a small pan, adding the mustard seeds and allow to pop without burning them. Add the urad dal and fry for a moment or two, then pour the ghee and all over the curry leaves and dal.
Cover with a lid and leave for 2 mins to allow the flavours to infuse. Serve and enjoy.