For most vegetarians, one of the most important sources of protein in their diet is dhal/lentils. A lot of South Indians love the mildly spiced, yet flavorful ‘Kootu’, a combination of moong dhal and vegetables. You can use any vegetable including cabbage, carrots, potato, beans and chayote. It’s a delicious dish that combines vegetables and dhal with some flavorful spices. It is typically cooked with moong dhal though toor dhal or a combination of both may also be used. It’s easy on your stomach and quiet healthy and tastes really good with rice or roti. My mom makes several different versions of kootu and this recipe is a personal favorite of mine. When experienced and intuitive cooks like my mom or grandmom share their recipes with me, they usually quantify measurements as “ a handful” or “ lemon ball size” or “ just a little”. For an amateur cook like myself, these measurements often turn out to be judgement calls and I find it pretty difficult to get the proportions right the first time around!! I try every dish a couple of times and I standardize the measurements. Having tried this recipe a few times now, I have almost perfected the proportions of the ingredients and the final product is the delicious yumminess called Kootu!!
Here is my mom’s recipe for a simple vegetable kootu:
It’s a simple 3-step process:
Moong dhal – ½ cup (standard measuring cup)
Toor dhal – 1 tbsp
Green peas – 1 cup
Cabbage – 2 cups
Turmeric- ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Pressure-cook all the above mentioned ingredients and set aside. Moong dhal cooks very quickly so 2 whistles should be sufficient. This is also prevent the veggies from getting over cooked.
Urad dhal – 1tbsp
Channa dhal 1 tbsp
Red chilli – 2
Cumin seeds ½ tbsp
Pepper – 3-4 pieces (just for flavor)
Coriander seeds ¼ tbsp
Coconut (shredded) – 1 ½ tbsp
Fry all the above mentioned spices in 1 tsp oil. Grind the spice mixture with a little bit of water and make a smooth paste.
Once the veggies and dhal are cooked add the spice paste from step 2 and let it boil for about 5 minutes. Finally, season with mustard seeds, urad dhal and asafoetida in ghee.
Of course you can add curry leaves as well.