There are certain dishes for which you don’t need to tell your mind to plan , size, and execute. All that you may have to say to yourself is that ‘I am making kootu for lunch’. The execution is almost effortless and flows like a river that knows the destination. That is the power of the ‘force of habit’ .
The days I pack a variety rice for lunch, the side dish is kootu because I believe it balances the lack of protein in the rice. The vegetable today in the menu is peerkangai / ridge gourd. The vegetable goes very well nutty gram dall /kadalai paruppu. The key is to cook the dall till it is soft and breaks when pressed.
Ridge gourd – One number
Onion – 1 big sized
Tomato – 1 medium sized
Cooked gram dall – 2 cups
Vadagam – 1 tablespoon
Garlic – 3 big cloves (malai poondu)
Chilli powder- 1 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon ( adjust to taste)
Oil – 1 tablespoon
Pressure cook the dall till it is soft and well done. Skin and dice the ridge gourd. Chop onion and tomato. Mince garlic. Heat oil in a kadai , sputter vadagam (if not , you can substitute with mustard and urad dall). Throw in the curry leaves , garlic . Add onions , let till cook until it is translucent , add tomato and cook till it is smushy. Add the chilli, turmeric, salt and the gourd . Simmer till the raw smell of the chilli powder fades away . Add the dall and pour the water in which dall is cooked. Simmer till the spice marries well with the dall. Adjust salt to taste .
Garnish with cilantro and enjoy with rice /chapati /Phulka!