Some of the most nutritious and simple vegetarian dishes often made in my kitchen is of the ‘kootu’ type which is a kind of gathering or coming together of vegetables and daal/lentil varieties. The basic masala mix is given below to which alternate cooked vegetables and lentils can be added to create a myriad of side dishes.
Basic Kootu masala
2 tbsp grated/desiccated coconut
1 tsp jeera
2 green chilli/ dry red chilli 1
1 garlic pod/ 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
Grind all of the ingredients to a fine paste and set aside.
Pressure cook 1/2 cup toor daal (lentil) and 1 1/2 cups of any vegetable (pumpkin, gourd, squash varieties taste best). If the vegetables used are tender and do not require pressure cooking they can be cooked on the hob and mashed separately and added to the daal (lentil). Add masala and simmer for 5 minutes. Add a tsp of coconut oil and mix well and garnish with curry leaves if tempering is a bother.
To temper: Sputter some mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little oil and add to the dish before enjoying on its own or with plain steamed rice and pappad.
For Avial cook mixed vegetables (carrot, green plantain, drumstick, potato, shallots. Mix in the above masala and add tsp of coconut oil and curry leaves. Add 2 tsps of yoghurt before serving.
For Erisheri cook 1/2 cup black eyed peas and 11/2 cups of pumpkin/squash. Mix well with masala and temper. For extra tasty garnish reserve a teaspoon of desiccated coconut and fry along with tempering ingredients. Pour over the erisheri and serve hot with fish curry/fry and steamed rice.