Monday, July 11, 2011

Squash Kootu

I'm in London this month, so I'm just finishing up some backlogged posts before taking some time off this blog.  Check out my colleague Alex's hilarious blog, alex the american, for some tales of our time here in England.


I was cleaning out my fridge before I left town, and I had a zucchini, so I made this recipe from holy cow.  Vaishali is right: I'd never heard of a Kootu.  But it's a great vegetarian dish: featuring vegetables in a sauce made of lentils, it's sort of sneakily high in protein while focusing on the veggies.

It's also easy!  You grind up a paste of fried spices and coconut, you cook some split peas until they're totally mushy, and you lightly saute some veggies.  Then everything just goes together!  It's also super healthy: it doesn't use that much oil, and the split peas add fiber and protein.  Actually, so does the coconut.

I used zucchini instead of patty pan squash, and I omitted the curry leaves and the small amounts of dals in the masala paste.  Using the specified amounts of black peppercorns and red chilies made the dish very hot.

Zucchini Kootu
(from holy cow!)

3/4 c yellow split peas
1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
1 TB coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red chilies (or less--see above notes)
1 TB black peppercorns (or less--see above notes)
1/2 c shredded coconut
1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
1 TB mustard seeds
2 medium squash (zucchini, summer squash, patty pan, etc), diced into very small cubes (about 1 cm)
salt to taste

1. Cook the split yellow peas until mashably soft.  (I added a pinch each of salt and turmeric)
2. Fry masala ingredients in a teaspoon of oil.  Remove, let cool, then grind into a smooth paste along with coconut.
3. Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil and add mustard seeds and curry leaves, if using.
4. Add the squash and stir-fry for about five minutes or until it starts to get tender.  (Don't cook it fully--you'll continue to simmer it in later steps)
5. Add the ground masala and the cooked split peas and stir well.
6. Add more water if the kootu is too thick and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the flavors have blended together and the squash is very tender.  Add salt to taste.  Serve hot.  Serves about 3.

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