Friday, September 30, 2011

Chayote & Lentils Curry /Chow Chow Kootu

I  grew up eating a whole lot of simple, healthy & hearty food-- My mom always believed in the power of fresh vegetables and the daily menu would have a variety of veggies packed in simple but eternally satisfying forms. I owe my love for all veggies & fruits to her - in her own persistent but indulging ways amma incorporated them in to our diet - yup even bitter-gourd was supremely blissful when she cooked ! 
So the kootu which is a very satisfying and omni-present dish in South Indian Cuisine ( it even finds its way in to marriage menus !!!), is one dish that was a regular in my mom's kitchen.Not only is the dish comforting & easy to make but also having picky eaters at home, the dish promises to lend a wholesome appeal !

When lentils & vegetable/(s) have a happy union, the resulting dish is  hearty & comforting ! Kootu  a medley of this marriage has its origins in Tamilnadu (South India) and literally means to add (கூட்டு) - veggies are added to the lentils and are seasoned & tempered to suit one's palate. The dish gets its semi-solid consistency to the ground spice & coconut mix. There are many regional versions to the dish and even in my hearth I bring a few subtle changes to the dish every time. For instance, this version of the Chayote Kootu has tomato to bring a tangy flavour to the dish; at times I add a good spoon of the tamarind paste instead of tomatoes or entirely skip both of them to have a different tasting dish altogether. Thus kootu can be played around to get a medley of flavours to suit your taste-buds. !
Now Coming to the veg part of the kootu, either one vegetable or a combination of two or more can be added to have a hearty kootu. The lentils are generally moong dal or a combination of moong dal & toor dal.

In today's Recipe, Chayote the hero of the dish gives a mild n refreshing taste to the kootu and is defenitely a family pleaser. Chayote is a pear shaped fruit eaten as a vegetable and is versatile.Originating in Central america, it is also known as vegetable pear/pear squash/chow chow/ chou chou/சௌ சௌ and is abundant in Amino Acids & Vitamin C . It can be eaten raw (for instance in salads) or cooked. The stems, leaves & tuber part of the roots of this plants are also edible and are said to contain medicinal uses. Though the skin & seed of the chayote are also edible, a few varieties of it is prickly & hard skinned - you can gently scrape of the skin before use. It is fat-free, cholesterol- free and is very low in calories - all the right reasons to gorge on it !! 

Now for the recipe :-

The star ingredients:-

  • Chayote Squash - 2 (washed,peeled &cored ) - peel it if skin prickly or hard
  • Moong Dal - 1 cup - washed & soaked for some time 

For the spicy -coconut paste :-

  • Coconut - a few pieces/grated
  • Black peppercorn - 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1
  • Red Chilli & Green chilli - 1 of each - to taste
  • Roasted bengal Gram - 1 to 2 tbsp

Seasoning & Tempering :-

  • Coconut oil - 1 tsp 
  • Mustard Seeds, Urad Dal - 1 tbsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Salt - to taste

Others :-

  • Tomato - 1 - cubed
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves - for garnish

Useful Pointers !

Soak lentils for some time before cooking to save fuel
If using chillis while tempering or grinding make sure to use both red & green (to taste) as it adds to the flavour and gives the dish a definite punch
3.Use tomatoes or tamarind paste if you like it tangy or you can totally skip them
The skin & seed of chayote are generally edible - peel them if it is prickly or hard 

How :-

Cut the chayote squash to small cubes and pressure cook it along with the lentils up to 3 whistles.Dry roast the ingredients for the paste (except green chilli) till golden brown and once it cools grind it along with the green chilli to a fine paste adding little water - Set aside.

In a wok, add oil and as it warms up , let the mustard seeds & urad dal crackle. Add the curry leaves & asafoetida and saute the tomatoes till it turns mushy. Add salt to taste and tip in the cooked lentils & chayote. Mix well. Let it come to a boil. Add water if the consistency is too thick. Now mix the ground paste and let it simmer for a while.Check for seasoning & take off flame. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot  with rotis or rice. Enjoy !


  1. Slurp,salivating here, kottu looks simply out of the world..

  2. very flavourful this anytime of the day!

  3. I need to cook with this vegetable, looks superb.

  4. Very yummy and delicious curry

  5. i like chow chow, the curry looks great n delicious..

  6. Delicious koottu. Perfect with hot rice.

  7. Chow chow kootu looks delicious.

  8. oh priya, this reminds me of mom's cooking! awesome, I say :)

  9. Awesome is the word. Love this preparation very much.

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  10. healthy and tasty kootu.. perfect with rice and rasam..

  11. I've been meaning to try chayote especially since you make it sound so delicious!

  12. Looks simple and great will try it thanx for the pointers

  13. Envious of the size of the chayotes :) We get 1/3 the size and used to be 69 cents now is $1.69!!!
    THis is one of my most fav kootus :) looks yum with appalam and all :)
    xoxo priya

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  15. I love chow chow kootu! Mom makes it often! I also thinks it so healthy!
    Kavi | Edible Entertainment

  16. Love this chow chow kootu, super comforting curry..

  17. All time classic kootu...this kootu makes a regular appearance in my home and we really love this a lot.

  18. I like this very much ...looks very yum

  19. Wow......Very healthy & hearty.....beautiful!!!!!!!!

  20. wow that sounds gr8..i never tried this kind of curry.i use to prepare only sambar and side dish,,.book marked..will buy today only and prepare..thanks for sharing.....

  21. Awesome recipe.Traditional recipes always has a charm that nothing can replace it.

  22. Looks very delicious priya.


  23. Hi priya
    thanx a lot for your sweet comments after my post for bonjour event...and i appreciate your concern...
    coming to this kootu...very nice recipe and love all the ingredients n flavors in it...superb preparation...You have lots of yummy n interesting recipes i am so confused to choose one among them(blog Hop wednesday)...have selected some 6 recipes n would like to try some bakes also...lets see :)