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.
This kootu is different from the traditional Aviyal 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. Kootu usually includes lentils and is 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.
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.
Kootu with Coconut
vegetables that can be used include plantains, amaranth stem, tender pumpkin and/or ash gourd (we have used pumpkin today)
0.5 cup grated coconut
1 tspn cumin seeds
3 – 5 green chillies, or to taste
0.5 tspn rice
1 Tblspn coconut oil (use organic raw coconut oil if possible) or Indian Sesame Oil
1 tspn black mustard seeds
0.5 tspn black gram dal (urad dal)
Cook the vegetables with salt until tender. Drain away excess water, leaving enough to form a sauce.
Grind the coconut, cumin seeds, green chillies and rice into a smooth paste. Add this to the cooked vegetables, mix well and bring to the boil.
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.
To make this into Amaranth Leaves Coconut Kootu, omit the green chillies. Instead grind 2 red chillies with the cumin seeds and coconut.