Mung dal has that immediate effect of making you feel good – supported, nourished, loved. Because of this quality – Miso Soup has it as well – dishes with Mung dal have become our go-to recipes after late nights and missed sleep, when work is far too busy and when there is disruption in our lives. Often it is a simple Mung Soup or Mung Dal, or Kitchari, all made in under 30 minutes, but today we make Poritha Kootu.
Kootu (Koottu, Kothsu) is a type of Kuzhambu, and is any vegetable combination with Mung Dal and freshly ground mild spices (but usually without sambar powder). Occasionally Toor Dal is used. Cumin is considered the defining spice for Kootu. Sometimes black pepper is used, but it seems fenugreek is never used. Kootu is a thicker dish than Sambar or Kuzhambu. You could say that Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu are very similar, except that Poritha Kootu is made with Mung Dal, has more vegetables and is much thicker.
Many kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and green chillies paste but this recipe, from Meenakshi Ammal, uses red chillies in the paste. As usual, her recipe takes some unpicking as it a little maze-like. It always takes a bit of a detective work to unravel some of her recipes in Vol 1 of Cook and See. I feel like a sleuth as I work my way through her complex instructions.
Recipes for Kootu vary from region to region, town to town, household to household. Some places define Poritha Kootu by the inclusion of pepper and urad dal in its seasoning, which makes it a variation of Kootu. This is at odds with the way Meenakshi Ammal makes Poritha Kootu – her recipe does not include pepper.
I have used zucchini with other vegetables in this dish – zucchini is still a slightly exotic vegetable in India where it was only recently introduced. I have paired it with potatoes and drumstick. It’s kinda special, as the zucchini and drumsticks are home grown.
Similar recipes include Amaranth Leaves with Mung Dal, Puli Keerai, Ezhukari Kuzhambu (Pongal Kootu), Poritha Kuzhambu (3), Poritha Kootu with Tamarind, Poritha Kootu with Coconut Chilli Paste and Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind.
Poritha Kootu | Recipe Without Tamarind
Meenakshi Ammal says that Poritha Kootu can be made just like the 3 methods of Poritha Kuzhambu, but it is made with Mung Dal and is thicker than the Poritha Kuzhambu. Here is her basic recipe. The other versions will be posted in the near future.
Meenakshi Ammal suggests using 3 vegetables for this Kootu, although she does hint that Tender Pumpkin can be used on its own and that Ashgourd and Beans make a good combination. Current day practice is to use between 1 – 3 vegetables.
vegetables – choose up to 3
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.
1.25 cups green gram dal (mung dal)
0.75 tspn salt
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)
few curry leaves
Cook the dal until well cooked. 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 and the salt. Cook the vegetables well, adding more water if necessary.
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 and the spice powder or paste to the vegetables. Keep the mixture as a thick dal. Bring to the boil and let the mixture boil well.
Turn off the heat.
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, add the curry leaves and allow to splutter, then pour the ghee and spices onto the dal.
Cover with a lid and leave for 2 mins to allow the flavours to infuse. Taste and add salt if required. Serve and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
Kootu is mixed with rice – a separate dry vegetable curry is not needed to accompany Kootu. Accompaniments are usually one or more of Thayir Pachadi (raita), Thuvaiyal, Pickle, Appalam / Vadam.
This is also very good with chappati.