This is a dish that is truly Palakkad Iyer cooking. I have come across somewhat similar versions in Tamil Iyer homes but not the Palakkad version. A Mulagootal (some call it Milaikootal) can be prepared with a variety of one or a combination of usually two vegetables like raw plantain (vazhakkai), elephant yam (chenai), yard long beans (payaru/ achinga), ash gourd ( elavan/ kumbalanga), pumpkin (maththan) , etc. and “English” vegetables like beans, peas, cabbage, carrots, etc. Whatever the vegetables you use, the mulagootal can be prepeared the same way.
This is a bland dish as it has very little or no spice added to it in the form of chillies or pepper. Yet it is extremely tasty.
I usually microwave most of the vegetables I need for daily cooking as they retain their colour and firmness (except some which acquire the softness and required consistency for traditional cooking only if pressure-cooked). I prefer to use my pressure cooker for lentils as I don’t like cleaning up the mess caused by microwaving larger quantities of lentils. I also find the pressure cooker takes less time than the microwave to cook lentils to the consistency (whether just cooked and firm or mushier) that I need for most Indian dishes. So I tend to use a combination of cooking methods in my kitchen.
The morning I saw that this month’s event at Srivalli’s blog was centred around greens, I was planning to make Keerai Mulagootal. So I made it in the microwave (MW) this time. The procedure may look voluminous, but this actually very easy and doesn’t take time to cook.
2 cups green amaranth leaves, mashed
¾ cup red gram dal, cooked and mashed (tuvar)
½ tsp oil + 1 tsp oil
1 tsp black gram dal (urad dal)+ 1 tsp black gram dal
¼ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds and urad dal each
Clean the leaves wash and cut up the leaves and tender parts of the stem into big pieces using kitchen scissors or a knife. I have a pair of scissors I keep for this and cutting up herbs. I also advise immersing the leaves for about half an hour (if using fresh leaves) in water to which about 2 tsps of salt (or turmeric powder) has been added. This ensures that all those little germs/ bugs we can’t see (but are there) are taken care of!
Now place the leaves in a MW-safe bowl, sprinkle a handful of water, cover the bowl loosely and MW at 100% for about 6 minutes. Stand for 5 minutes and allow to cool. Put the leaves and whatever liquid is with it into the blender and pulse once or twice to mash. Do not puree.
I don’t cook tuvar dal in the MW. If you do, please cook it as you would such that you have a cooked dal that can be mashed well.
In another dish put ½ tsp of oil. MW at 100% for 1 minute. Add 1 tsp of urad dal and MW at 100% for about 1 ½ minutes. By now the the dal should be light brown. Remove this dal and put it in a mixer blender. Now add the cumin seeds and the coconut and grind everything to a fine paste using water as required. Keep aside.
In a deep dish, put 1 tsp of oil. MW at 100% for a minute. Add the mustard seeds and the other 1 tsp of urad dal, cover loosely and MW at 100% for 1 ½ minutes. The mustard seeds would have spluttered and urda dal browned. Now add the mashed amaranth leaves and tuvar dal, turmeric and chilli powders, salt and 3 cups of water. Mix well. MW this at 100% for 6 minutes. Mix well and further MW at 60% for another 6 to 8minutes till the mulagootal is slightly thick but of pouring consistency (little thicker than a sambhar).
Serve hot with rice and a spicy accompaniment like pachadi or thogayal (will do a post later) .
The ingredients and method are the same, just that the cooking is done on the stovetop.
This is going to be a part of MEC: Greens at Cooking 4 All seasons.