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Podavalangai Kootu – Snake Gourd With Lentils and Coconut
A “kootu” is made with one vegetable (sometimes two), Bengal gram lentils and a spice-coconut paste. This preparation does not have a gravy as such, yet cannot be defined as “dry” because the spice-coconut paste coats the vegetables and lentils resulting in a moist and semi-solid consistency.
  1. Soak the Bengal gram lentils (chana dal) in a little water for 1/2 an hour. Cook the snake gourd pieces and lentils together (till both are done), along with turmeric powder and salt. The lentils should be cooked well but firm and not mushy.
  2. I do the cooking in the microwave at 100% for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Now grind the coconut, cumin seeds and red chillies to a somewhat thick and smooth paste adding a little water.
  4. If you have microwaved them, put the cooked vegetable and lentils, turmeric powder, salt, and about 1/4 cup of water in a pan. Otherwise continue using the pan in which you cooked the vegetable (it should have about 1/4 cup of liquid in it). Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to medium.
  5. Add the coconut paste and curry leaves, and allow to the mixture to cook for about 2 to 3 minutes till everything comes together and the coconut paste thickly coats the vegetable. The preparation should be semi-solid and very moist. Take the pan off the heat and ladle out the “kootu” into a serving dish.
  6. Heat the oil for tempering in a small pan, and add the mustard seeds. When the splutter, add the black gram lentils and stir till the turn light golden brown. Add the chili (if using), stir once, and pour this into the serving dish.
  7. Stir before serving. Serve warm with rice and Sambhar or Rasam.