Kootu is a thick, coconut-heavy dal dish, tangy with tamarind and spiced with sambar spices. Today our Kootu is made with eggplant. It is easily and quickly made by simmering the eggplant in tamarind and spices before adding the dal and coconut.
The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal‘s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
2 cups chopped eggplant
0.25 tspn turmeric powder
2 cups toor dal (red gram dal)
small lump tamarind
1.25 – 1.5 tspn sambar powder
coconut milk or coconut shreds that have been finely ground
1 tspn jaggery
1 tspn rice flour
pinch asafoetida powder
8 – 10 curry leaves
a few sambar vadams (optional)
1 tspn brown Mustard seeds
1 tspn urad dal (black gram dal)
1 tspn channa dal (bengal gram dal)
1 Tblspn ghee or Indian sesame oil
Cook the toor dal until tender and disintegrating. Do not drain.
Make tamarind juice by soaking the tamarind in hot water for 15 – 20 mins, then strain, reserving the water. Push the pulp through the strainer to extract as much as you can, leaving the seeds and fibres behind.
Heat the tamarind water, and add the eggplant, salt, sambar powder and enough water to cook the eggplant. Simmer until the eggplant is tender.
Add the cooked toor dal, jaggery, asafoetida and pinched curry leaves. Mix well and simmer for a few moments. Add the coconut milk or finely ground coconut mixed to a paste with water. Then add the rice flour mixed to a paste with water, and bring back to a simmer while stirring. Continue stirring until the kootu thickens. Remove from the heat.
Make a tadka by heating the ghee or sesame oil in a tadka pan or small pan, and add the mustard seeds. Allow to pop and then add the urad dal and channa dal. When they turn golden, pour the oil and spices onto the kootu.
Serve and enjoy.
Dried Brinjal Kootu | Brinjal Preserve Kootu
Meenakshi Ammal also has a recipe for Dried Brinjal Kootu, which is very similar to the recipe above.
Wash the dried pieces of eggplant and simmer in water until rehydrated. Drain the water and add to tamarind water. Continue with the recipe above.
recipe notes and alternatives
This variation, where vegetables are cooked prior to adding to tamarind, can also be used for green beans, amaranth stems, Elephant Yam and Elephant Foot Yam. For these and the dried brinjal, use only thick tamarind juice.