Tuesday, 6 December 2011



1)    Raw, mature Nendran banana – 200 gm.
2)    Either ash gourd or Vellari (Kerala curry cucumber) – 200 gm.
3)    Elephant foot yam – 200 gm.
4)    Brown skin chickpeas – 100 gm.

5)    Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
6)    Black pepper corns – ½ teaspoon
7)    Black pepper powder – ¼ teaspoon
8)    Dry hot red chilies – 6 Nos.
9)    Dry Kashmiri red chilies – 3 Nos.
10)                      Medium sized coconut – 1
11)                      Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
12)                      Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
13)                      Coconut oil – 1½ tablespoons
14)                      Tender curry leaves – 3 sprigs
15)                      Sugar – 1 tablespoon
16)                      Salt – 1½ teaspoons

Optional additional ingredient:
Ripe pumpkin – 200 gm. (see note no. 5)

To Cook:
Soak the chickpeas overnight. Wash, drain and put in a pressure cooker with double its volume of water. Set the cooker on high heat. When you hear the second whistle, turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and let cool naturally. Peel the ash gourd and the elephant foot yam. Wash and cut into 15 mm. cubes. Cut off both the sharp tips of the Nendran banana. Wash and cut it into 15 mm. cubes without removing the peel.
Put the diced vegetables and the cooked chickpeas with its stock into a wide deep vessel. If the chickpea stock is very less, add a little water, keeping in mind that you are preparing a thick semi-dry curry.
Add the turmeric powder and the salt. Set on high heat and stir occasionally, checking to see that it does not stick to or burn at the bottom. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat.
In a small pan on low heat, roast the black pepper corns, the cumin seeds and the dry hot red chilies for a minute. Switch off the heat.
Break the coconut. Cut out a third of the flesh from one of the halves and use a sharp knife to slice it into tiny 2 mm. thick bits of 1 cm. width and the coconut flesh thickness for their length.

Remember to keep an eye on the vegetables. Grate the rest of the whole coconut.
Now take two thirds of the grated coconut and put it into the food processor. Tip in all of the roasted spices. Without adding any water, grind to fine thick powdery paste. By now, the vegetables should be cooked. Add the sugar to the vegetables and stir well. Tip in the ground coconut paste. Sprinkle the black pepper powder. Stir nicely till it is mixed well. Switch off the heat and cover with a lid.
Cut the Kashmiri chilies into long thin strips. Set a small pan on low heat. Throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as they are about to finish popping, put in the finely cut coconut pieces. Stir till they turn light brown. Now add the remaining grated coconut and stir. As soon as it turns a beautiful golden brown, add the tender curry leaves together with the cut Kashmiri chilies. Stir once, switch off and tip over the entire contents of the pan into the curry.
Your kitchen will be filled with the nice nutty roasted aroma of the coconut. Stir once and cover with lid. Serve hot or cold. Both are equally delicious and so delightfully full of texture.
1)    Kootu curry is a compulsory side dish in marriage feasts and in festivals in Kerala.
2)    If brown skin chickpeas are not available, you can use white skin chickpeas (Kabul) or chickpea lentils.
3)    If you do not have time to soak the chickpeas overnight, you can substitute them with fresh tender green peas or frozen green peas. In either case, the cooker is not necessary.
4)    For a different flavor, cowpeas can also be used.
5)    If you love pumpkins, you can include 200 gm. of ripe pumpkin with the other vegetables. This will taste still better. I have not given pumpkin as an ingredient to kootu curry only because it is traditionally not used in this curry.

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