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Chena Kadala Kootukari

Chenai Kadala Kootu Kari - Elephant Yam & Black Chickpeas With Toasted Coconut

A traditional South Indian dish from Kerala of Elephant Yam and Black Chickpeas cooked with toasted coconut. It is also vegan and gluten-free.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 12 hrs 50 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 serving


  • 2 cups chenai/ elephant yam chopped (into smallish cubes)
  • 3/4 cup black chickpeas soaked and cooked
  • 1 cup fresh grated coconut (3/4 cup + 1/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsps cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsps powdered jaggery
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder (1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp)
  • to taste salt
  • 1 1/2 tsps coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsps mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsps split black gram lentils (urad dal)


  • Cook the chopped elephant yam in a little water with 1/2 tsp turmeric powder till it is soft. You can also do this in the microwave or a pressure cooker. Do not add salt or the vegetable will not cook. Grind together 3/4 cup of grated coconut, the red chillies and cumin seeds with a little water to a very smooth paste. Keep aside.
  • Drain all but about 1/4 cup of water from the cooked elephant yam. Put the cooked elephant yam and turmeric water, the cooked chickpeas, the curry leaves and the other 1/4 tsp turmeric powder in a pan. Bring to a boil and add the salt. Turn down the heat to medium and add the coconut paste. Mix well and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes or so, until the vegetable and chickpeas are coated in the coconut paste. Add the powdered jaggery and mix well.
  • The preparation shouldn't have a gravy as such but still be quite wet by now. Empty the kootukari into a serving dish.
  • In another pan, heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When the start spluttering add the lentils and saute till golden. Pour this into the cooked vegetable.
  • In the same pan, put the remaining 1/4 cup coconut and toast it till it turns a deep brown and gives off a nice aroma. Stir frequently to ensure the coconut does not burn. Add this too, to the cooked vegetable. Serve warm as a side dish to a main rice based meal. Stir the kootukari just before serving, so that the tempering and the toasted coconut is well mixed.