Kootu is a lovely South Indian daal. Most of the south indian daals have tamarind and that distinct reddish brown color. This kootu offers a break from that with no tamarind and more emphasis on freshly ground spices, esp. black pepper. I developed a liking for it after I made it from this old kannada cookbook called “Kalpalatha” by Mrs. Vedamma. This book was given to me by my sister Sharada when I came to the U.S. It has pretty much all the traditional karnataka food recipes under titles such as Vividha annagaLu, Vividha huLigaLu mattu kootugaLu, PudigaLu etc. Thanks to that summer in Gandhinagar when just out of a whimsical fancy I taught myself how to read kannada, I am able to read and understand this book quite well.
Usually I make kootu with heerekayi/chinese okra, but this time I decided to make it with lilva papdi/avarekaaLu, carrots and beans. It turned out to be a very good combination. I usually make some extra kootu paste and freeze it. This makes it very easy to make kootu next time.
1/2 cup toor dal/togari beLe/pigeon peas
2 cups chopped vegetables (You can use whichever you like but some popular ones are beans, carrots, ridge gourd. When using Turiya/ridge gourd, I don’t add any other vegetable. For this recipe, I used Lilva papdi, carrots and beans.)
A few curry leaves
1+1/4 tea spoon ghee
For the paste:
1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
1 table spoon chana dal
1 table spoon coriander seeds
1 tea spoon cumin seeds
1 tea spoon black pepper
8 dry red chilies
1. Cook toor dal in approx. 3 cups of water until soft.
2. Chop the vegetables and steam cook by adding 1 cup of water until done.
3. In a small fry pan, add 1/4 tea spoon ghee and fry chana dal, coriander seeds, cumins seeds, black pepper and red chilies. (about 3 minutes)
4. Grind coconut and fried spices into a smooth paste by gradually adding about 1/2 cup of water.
5. Add the paste and cooked toor dal to the vegetables and bring kootu to boil.
6. Heat 1 tea spoon of ghee and do a vaghar/tadka with mustard seeds and hiing/asafoetida.