Friday, December 23, 2011

Podalangai (snake gourd) koottu

I can't believe I did not know how to make this dish till a few months ago. I always thought koottu involved using coconut and being the health conscious person that I am, I did not make koottu on a regular basis to avoid using coconut. Then, I was cooking in my mom's kitchen one day and she taught me how to make koottu (a vegetable side dish with gravy) without coconut. It tastes surprisingly good and is also super easy to make as it involves very minimal monitoring once on the stove.

So, these days, this has become my go to dish of choice when I do not have too much time to cook but would still like to eat a filling, healthy and tasty meal. Thus, my fridge's veggie drawer is now stocked with either podalangai (snake gourd) or chow-chow (chayote), both of which make good koottu.

Enough with the blah-blah and on to the recipe:

Podalangai Koottu
Podalangai Koottu

Ingredients (2 servings):
1 medium podalangai, white fleshy interior removed and chopped into pieces
1/2 cup moong dal, washed and soaked for about 10  minutes
1 medium onion, chopped
Water
Salt

For tempering:
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chilis, broken (can be less or more depending upon your taste
A pinch asafoetida
2 sprigs of curry leaves, torn
Oil

Method:
1. Take about a teaspoon of oil in a pan. Place on stove on medium heat and add mustard seeds and red chilis. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida and curry leaves in quick succession.
2. Toss in the onion pieces and a little salt and fry till the onion changes color.
3. Add in the soaked moong dal and enough water to cover and boil for about 5-10 minutes, till the moong dal is half-cooked.
4. Now, add in the podalangai pieces and stir well with the moong dal. Add some more water. Remember that you need enough water to cook the veggie as well as the dal - so be a little generous with the water.
5. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, till the veggie is done and the gravy has reached the consistency you like.
6. Adjust for salt.

Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Notes:
1. As I said earlier, chow chow can be used instead of podalangai. In fact, any veggie with high water content can be used (pumpkin, bottle gourd etc).
2. The moong dal should not cooked to a complete mush. The koottu tastes best when you are still able to just about taste the moong dal grains (cooked through but still slightly distinct).
2. To get the traditional kootu taste, grind a little fresh coconut with a little jeera and green chilis (adjust the red chili quantity accordingly). Add to the above dish towards the end and cook for about 5 minutes.


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