When Srivalli announced this theme on Kootu (or lentil-veg gravies) made from Tamilnadu for Blogging Marathon , I was happy for two reasons - Kootu features regularly in our regular menu as well as some varieties made on occassions and we enjoy making different kinds almost on a weekly basis. Deriving from the tamil word, Kootu literally means ' to add'. So, we add lentils and veggies together in a semi thickish gravy which goes well with hot rice and ghee (clarified butter). Be it part of the traditional sit down meal (served on plaintain leaves) or a festive occassion or even regular home menus, Kootus can be classified as Puli Kootu (based in Tamarind Gravy), Aruchivitta Kootu (made with home made ground masala) or Poricha Kootu (made with freshly roasted and ground masala powder). Basically, any lentil (Cow pea, Black eyed pea, Toor Dal or Moong Dal) is blended with veggies (mostly snake gourd, chow chow (chayote), cabbage, ash gourd, or even string beans). Traditionally , Kootu is made without any onion or garlic, although that is changing with tastebuds evolving. Today's dish does not need both onion or garlic and is best savoured that way.
This dish has traversed from the Mysore (a city in Karnataka) to my hearth (Tamil speaking household) and is a common dish made by Tamilians hailing from the Karnataka region, that too from the Mysore section of Karnataka. I had already posted a version of this kootu earlier, but with this being mom's signature dish (and her version varies quite a bit from mine), I have posted mom's version here. Enjoyed with hot rice, this is a great dish that tastes better the next day too with chilled curd rice. Make sure you make this with long and green brinjals (aka Mysore Badanekaayi) for best results. Another tip from Amma (mom) is that the black eyed pea (or Alasandhe) needs to be cooked to neither mashy or undercooked. So, enjoy this kootu series for Blogging Marathon # 28 and check out my fellow marathoners here. Also as its a protein rich dish, sending it to an event that am guesthosting all this May - MLLA # 59.
Prep time : 45 mins soaking + 15 mins | Cook time : 15 mins | Serves : 4
Difficulty level : Medium
Spice factor : Medium
Serving accompaniments : Hot rice, ghee & Papad.
- Long, slender and fresh green brinjals - 300 gms (or about 3 - 4 medium ones) *
- Salt - to taste
- Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
- Black eyed pea / Alasandhe / Karamani - 1/4 cup (or 3 handfuls)
- Oil - 3 TBSP
- Tempering : Mustard seeds, curry leaves
- *If you are not able to get the green ones, select brinjals which are not the Bharta (big huge ones) or the ones which have many seeds)
For the Masala paste:
- Fresh coconut - 1/4 cup
- Coriander seeds - 1 TBSP
- Tamarind - 1/2 big gooseberry sized
- Red Chillies - 2 big (or 3 medium)
- Jeera / Cumin - 1/2 tsp
- Channa Dal / split bengal gram - 3/4 TBSP
- Asafoetida - a generous pinch
Wash and soak black eyed pea in warm water for 30 min - 1 hour. Once done, drain and pressure cook with a pinch of salt to 2 /.3 whistles till just done, but not mushy. Drain the water and reserve it.
Wash and pat dry the brinjals. Cut into 1 inch long batons and reserve in warm salted water.
Heat 1 tsp of oil. Roast all the ingredients except coconut and asafoetida one by one till they are slightly roasted. Cool and grind with 1/4 cup water to a thickish paste.
In the same pan, heat the remaining oil. Prepare the tempering with the mustard and curry leaves.
Once the spluttering comes down, add the cut brinjals, turmeric and saute for 5 - 6 mins till the oil coats the brinjal.
Now add requisite salt and sprinkle little water. Cover and cook till brinjals are cooked, but firm, about 8- 10 mins on medium heat.
Once they are done, add the masala paste, and saute till the raw smell disappears and the oil begins to leave the sides. Check for salt and spices.
Once masala paste is cooked, add the cooked lentils, and 1/4 - 1/2 cup salt and mix well. Cover and cook for further 6 - 8 mins till done and a wonderful nutty aroma emerges and you get a thickish gravy.
Serve hot with rice and a dollop of ghee.