Kootu-Southern Coconut Stew

 photo 3 (4)

I’ve been a bit off weather for a few weeks now.. and was reminded about blogging from a friend who texted, .where are your posts, I’ve been watching out but long time no writing? What’s with that.. Sorry about that.. Rib dislocation takes a little time to heal, and it does mean discomfort..But then what better way to satisfy body and soul than to make a stew. Kootu is a southern stew or soup, depending on who you talk to. Some like it thick & some like it thin. Today I was in the mood for a thin stew, but I’ll share tips on making it thicker.

When I finished making it and tasted a spoonful, I was truly in seventh heaven, I had forgotten all about the delicacy of winter melon, the sweetness of coconut, the light spice of green pepper and ginger.

What about protein you ask. Patience… I’m coming to that. I think we as a society place an overemphasis on protein while at the risk of neglecting minerals our body needs that only vegetables can deliver. Anyhow that’s a topic for another post. The protein kick in this stew is delivered by split yellow chickpeas.. And the light green colour may remind you that spring is around the corner, or so we all hope here in the great white northern country of Canada.

4 cups washed, peeled and cubed winter melon
¼ cup yellow split peas
Spice Mix
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 tsp green hot pepper
2 tbsp grated coconut(fresh or dry)1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad seeds
8-10 curry leaves
Pinch hing
Salt to taste1 tbsp coconut oil
Serves 4

Pots n pans
Wok or fry pan
Food processor

• Wash, rinse and then soak the yellow split peas in double the quantity of water in a large enough vessel. They will swell slightly so pick a large enough vessel for soaking. Set aside.

photo 1 (2)
• Meanwhile let’s start prepping. Wash, peel and cut winter melon into cubes, set aside.

photo 3 (3)
Coconut spice paste – Chop ginger and green hot pepper thinly. Grind with cumin and grated coconut in food processor.

photo 2 (3)
• Heat fry pan. Add soaked split peas, water and all. Let cook about 10 minutes with lid on.
• Test that the split peas are cooked, al dente or cooked and yet slightly crisp. They should have absorbed pretty much all the water.
• Add the cubed winter melon, ½ cup water and salt. Give everything a stir and let cook with lid on about 5 minutes or even sooner. (SOS-want a thicker stew, add any thickening agent you like, southern Indian cooks usually use rice flour to maintain the gluten free nature of food).

photo 1
• Check the doneness of winter melon, again slightly crisp.
• Add the coconut spice paste and let come to a gentle boil.photo 4 (2)
Spice oil – Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in skillet. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add urad and then curry leaves and hing.

photo 2 (4)
• Pour spice oil over stew.
• Serve with some rice.

Health benefits
This delicate gourd comes loaded with nutrients. Its a great source of Vitamin B1(thiamine), vitamin B3(niacin) and vitamin C. Also rich in minerals like calcium. And its high in potassium(those of you who have leg cramps can maybe consider including it in your diet). With almost a whopping 96% water, its a weight watcher’s delight. Given that it has so much water content, exercise caution while cooking. Overcooking will end up in a mushy stew, so just lightly cook it.

In Ayurvedic remedies its used to increase appetite plus its fresh juice is used to cure kidney stones. The charaka samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya Samhita, both ancient ayurvedic texts praise winter melon for its nutritional and medicinal qualities.

Wow! Who knew.. All I was going by was my instinct gravitating towards this elegant and lightly spiked with spice stew. If you’re wondering where to source it, try your local chinese grocery store. It’ll come packed in stryofoam.

Oh and lastly! I kept this stew as close to tradition as possible, so no turmeric this time.. Some homes make it without ginger, but I felt the addition would help everyone who needs warming up this winter. Feel free to experiment sans ginger but whatever you do, please do try this lovely stew.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Charu – dislocated ribs ? Ouch. Sending you good vibes from KL, and hope you get well soon! As usual, good post – I’ve learnt to eat with my eyes first haha, so the photos make me good and proper hungry already. Comfort food indeed. Take care!

    1. soulofspice says:

      thanks a lot for your get well wishes Nat.. I feel better already with your good vibes from KL.. comfort food always helps 🙂

  2. Oh you poor thing, how painful. Lots of R&R needed for sure. Like the look of this recipe. Not come across it before. I am guessing that winter mellon is similar to marrow right? Please let me know and I will try making it.

  3. soulofspice says:

    thanks so much Torie. a little R&R & a lot of chiro, and massage therapy and I’m on the mend now.. yes, winter melon also goes by winter gourd, ash gourd.. here’s a wiki link with some pix.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_melon. do let me know if you’re able to make it..

  4. Suna says:

    I’ve never made this dish with coconut so thanks for giving me a new twist to an old dish I knew. I also add lots of curry leaves when boiling the melon and lastly pour some coconut oil before turning off the stove (Kerala style). Hope you’re feeling better now Charu.

    1. soulofspice says:

      Oh I still remember your Kerala stew… The coconut oil pouring technique is simply the best. I’m going to try more curry leaves like you suggest next time…I feel much better Suna thanks for asking…

  5. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!

    1. soulofspice says:

      you’ve left the site better than what it was.. with your lovely visit.. thanks for camping out here!

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