Kootu is a lentil and vegetable stew that is quintessential to a south Indian cuisines. The word “kootu” literally means “add” i.e. usually vegetable added with lentils with a coconut masala that makes the dish semi-solid in consistency and a perfect side for rice and dosas. It is a complete meal in itself because of the lentils, vegetables and unique flavor profile.
Mor kootu is a just one variety of kootu there is. There is porucha kootu, Ezhu kari kootu, paal kootu just to name a few. Kootu is often, if not always, paired with a spicy counter part of sort like vathal kuzhambu, Pulikachal rice, Lemon rice etc that is not heavy on lentils. The mild and protein rich side pairs very well with the spicy tart main course.
Mor kootu is slightly different from the other counterparts in that it does not have any cooked lentils added to it. This simplicity of it makes it as much more delicious . It’s mainly consist of sour yogurt, coconut masala and good amount of the vegetable added to it. Just this 3 items in perfect unison makes the mor kootu out of the world delicious.
I have used the rind of the watermelon to make this kootu and I must say it tasted pretty amazing. The rind really holds shape even when it is well cooked unlike the other veggie alternatives that can get over cooked if not careful. Also the addition of gram dal or gram flour in the masala helps bind the dish in absence of cooked dal.
Traditionally the gram dal is soaked in water along with little rice and all of that is ground to a smooth paste with coconut, cumin and green chillis. I used the gram flour to thicken the gravy here and it tasted equally good.
What other vegetables can be used in this dish?
The usual vegetables that make a good candidate for this dish are ash gourd, banana stem, chayote, bottle gourd, cabbage, zucchini, even the pulp of Indian drumsticks would be perfect for this dish. So technically any veggie with water content works perfectly for this dish.
A perfect combination for vathal kuzhambu or any type of spicy mixed rice it is an amazing dish.
Watermelon rind mor kootu | Buttermilk Stew
- Watermelon rind – 2 cups chopped into pieces
- Cucumber – 1/2 cup
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
- Yogurt preferable a little sour – 1 cup (whisked with 1/2 cup of water)
- Salt – to taste
Masala to grind
- Coconut – 1/2 cup
- Cumin seeds – 1 tbs
- Green chilies – 4 to 5
- Gram flour – 1.5 tsp
- Any Oil – 2 tsp preferably coconut oil
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Ullutham paruppu / Urad dal – 2 tsp
- Curry leaves – few
- Asafetida – a pinch
- Peel the watermelon skin off the rind and chop it into small pieces.
- In a pan add 1/2 cup water, turmeric, salt and add the chopped watermelon rind
- Let it cook down for 5-6 minutes till soft. Add more water if needed.
- Meanwhile, grind the coconut, green chilies, cumin seeds and besan/gram flour into a smooth paste.
- I like to add the part yogurt and part water for grinding. Make sure not to too much liquid to grind the mix.
- Once the rind is cooked well. Add the ground coconut masala and let the kootu simmer for 5 mins in low flame.
- If you feel the gravy is thickening and needs water you can add plain water or thin dal water
- At this time add in the rest of the whisked yogurt but do not let the mixture boil. Just when it starts to bubble up from the sides tun off the heat.
- Heat oil for seasoning and add the seasoning ingredients.
- The aroma is simply amazing
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