I love this "kootu" (this is in Tamil, which means a gravy made with dals and veggies). This is a kind of pulusu i.e., cooked in tamarind juice and spices, for me this is kind of like a comfort food. My husband loves this with rice. If I tell him that I am making this, immediately he will request me to fry some papad (appalam) and he calls this combination "heavenly food".
We call this puli kootu or Kanu kootu. This one is specially made on the day next to Pongal festival (we call Kanu festival), when we pray for our brothers (similar to Rakshbandan) with all the season's fresh harvest vegetables. But this is often made in our home as we all love it. Whenever, I make this, it is kind of going back in memory lane, taking me back to my childhood relishing this dish. Even now, when my mom cooks this, she makes sure she packs some of it for me and my family.
This recipe is a keeper and I exactly do how my mom does. One can make this with one vegetable alone like winter melon (white flesh pumpkin), eggplant or with all mixed vegetables with dried beans or fresh ones (one or many types) and peanuts. Sometimes this can be done with dried beans alone with or without peanuts. The peanuts give an extra crunchiness. This kootu can be considered as a versatile dish, as it goes with plain rice, dal rice, dosa or chapathi.
Since you use a little of many veggies, makes a good quantity and hence can easily feed up to 12 people as a side dish. One can make this ahead for get togethers and it also freezes well (Trust me, I have tried and frozen many of my dishes when my son was born) and it is very simple and easy to make.
Tamarind - small lemon size
Toor dhal - 6 tbsp
Peanuts - 1/2 cup
Potato - 1 medium
Taro or colocassia - 4 or 5
Carrot - 1
Avarakai or papdi - 4 or 5
Beans - 8 to 10
Cluster beans - 15 to 20
Bell pepper - 1 medium (mix of colors also ok)
Green peas - 1/2 cup (fresh or frozen)
Sweet potato - 1 (small one, I used the white variety)
Chayote squash (Chow chow) - 1/2 of a medium one
Snake gourd - 1/2 cup
Eggplant - 4 small ones
Pumpkin - 1/2 cup
Winter melon or white pumpkin - 1/2 cup
Garbanzo beans - 1/2 cup (soaked)
Fresh kidney beans - 1/2 cup
Fresh butter beans - 1/2 cup
Fresh lima beans - 1/2 cup
(if you don't have fresh beans, can omit or use varieties of dried beans after soaking)
Jackfruit seeds - 10 (optional)
Red chilli powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Salt -1 tbsp
Cilantro - 1/4 cup, chopped fine
Roast and grind:
2 tsp oil
2 tbsp chana dhal
2 tbsp urad dhal
11/2 tbsp coriander seeds
Red chilli - 6 nos.
fenugreek - 1 tsp
Coconut - 1/2 cup shredded
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1 tsp
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 3 sprigs
Roast all these in oil, cool and grind these to a paste with 1 tomato. You can a little add water if necessary.
Pressure cook dhal, garbanzo, peanuts, colocasia and jackfruit seeds. Chop all the vegetables to 1 in. length. Extract the tamarind juice with 3 cups of water, add the veggies to this and simmer for about 15 min. till all the veggies are cooked. Add salt, turmeric powder, pressure cooked beans, peanuts, colocasia and jackfruit seeds and simmer for 5 min. Add the ground spice paste and cooked dhal. More water can be added, if needed. Boil for a 4-5 minutes till all the flavors blend together. Adjust the salt and if needed for more hotness, add the chilli powder. In a separate pan, heat a tsp oil, add mustard seeds, uard dhal, hing and curry leaves. Once it is done spluttering add it to the kootu. Garnish with cilantro and the vegetable gravy or stew is all ready! I promise it would be amazing in taste and a wonderful meal can be easily prepared whether for your family or for a party! Enjoy.
I didn't have green plantains and elephant yam. If you have you can add those too.
Frozen mixed vegetable pack can also be used which saves vegetable cutting time, if you are in a hurry.
I got jackfruit the other day and so saved the seeds for later use. I have seen frozen cooked jackfruit seeds in the frozen aisle in Coconut Hill, Sunnyvale, CA. So, if you find can use it for this or sambhar or curry.