Kootu (or Koottu) is a simple, yet delicious dish that’s made in most Tamil homes in Tamil Nadu in South India. While it can be made at any time, it is especially important during some festivals, such as Pongal.
Kootu usually includes lentils and is perhaps similar to sambar and kuzhambu, but there is a variation that is similar to Aviyal in that lentils are not used but a variety of vegetables are included. Most kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and red or green chillies in a paste – sometimes spices are kept to a minimum and just a coconut paste is used. We have made this one with Amaranth Leaves.
This kootu is different from the traditional Aviyal style as the mix of ingredients is different. Each Tamil home has their own style of making this kootu and the vegetables chosen also differ from home to home.
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.
Amaranth Leaves Coconut Kootu
0.5 cup grated coconut
1 tspn cumin seeds
2 red chillies, or to taste
0.5 tspn rice
1 Tblspn coconut oil or Indian Sesame Oil
1 tspn black mustard seeds
0.5 tspn black gram dal (urad dal)
Cook the amaranth leaves with a pinch bicarb soda until tender. Strain, chop the leaves coarsely, return to the saucepan and add enough water to make a sauce/gravy.
Grind the coconut, cumin seeds, red chillies and rice to a smooth paste. Add this to the cooked leaves, mix well and bring to the boil. Simmer to allow the sauce to thicken a little.
Make a tadka by heating the oil in a tadka pan or small pan, popping the mustard seeds, and when they finish popping, adding the black gram dal. As it turns golden, pour the oil and spices onto the vegetables.
recipe notes and alternatives
If rice is not available, add some rice flour mixed with a little water to the ground coconut and spice paste.