Kootanchoru is a traditional one-pot meal prepared for lunch, and it is a complete meal with the carbs, protein, vitamins & minerals. My grandmother used to prepare this flavorful rice dish at our family gatherings especially in the summer vacation every year. She preferred to use the locally grown vegetables like drumsticks, drumstick leaves, raw banana, raw mango, jackfruit seeds, etc. and served us kootan-choru with home-made fried appalam & vadagam. I still remember the mixed flavors of vegetables, spices and deep-fried vengaya vadagam emanating from her kitchen when we all played in the courtyard. The main attraction for the kids in those days were the nutty jackfruit seeds & the mango seed encapsulated by tangy fleshy mango.
How to serve kootanchoru:
We serve kootanchoru in 2 portions, plain kootanchoru & kootanchoru mixed with curd. For the plain rice we just mix the warm kootanchoru with ghee or coconut oil and serve with appalam & koozh-vatral. And the next portion may be relished with both appalam & vadagam.
Tirunelveli Kootanchoru Recipe:
Here is my attempt to replicate my grandmother’s one pot meal, and the recipe for Tirunelveli style kootanchoru is as below :
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves : 5
- Boiled rice (puzhungal arisi)- 1 and 1/4 cups ( 250 g)
- Green gram (paasi paruppu) or red gram (thuvaram paruppu) – 1/2 cup (100 g)
- Coconut Oil – 2 tbsp
- Turmeric powder (manjal podi) – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1 and 1/2 tsp
- Asafoetida (hing/ perungaya podi) – 1/2 tsp
- Water for pressure cooking- 1 Litre
- Drumstick (murungai) – 1 No.
- Raw mango (maangai) – 1/2
- Potato – 1 No.
- Carrot – 1 No (large)
- Beans – 5 Nos.
- Broadbeans (avarai)- 5 Nos.
- Red pumpkins (manjal poosani) – 10 cubes
- Eggplants (brinjal/ kathrikai) – 5 Nos
- Jack fruit seeds (pala kottai)- 10 Nos.
- Drumstick leaves (murungai ilai) – a handful
Spice mix (masala):
- Red Chillies (milagai vatral) – 14 Nos
- Garlic (poondu) – 4 pods
- Cumin seeds (jeeragam) – 1 tsp
- Tamarind (puli) – Please refer the image below
- Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
- Crushed vadagam (optional)
Mise en place:
- Wash rice & lentils, soak them in one litre of water. and leave them aside.
- Soak tamarind in hot water.
- Wash & cut all vegetables as shown in the picture above.
- In a mixer-grinder jar add red chillies, cumin seeds & garlic and grind into a coarse powder.
- Remove fibres or seeds, if any, from tamarind, add to red chillies mixture and grind into a fine paste.
How to cook kootanchoru:
- Heat a heavy bottom pressure cooker with oil, add all the vegetables, turmeric powder, red chillies paste & asafoetida.
- Saute .
- Pour rice soaking water into the pressue cooker and bring to a boil.
- Add drumstick leaves, rice, lentils and salt.
- Mix all ingredients together & bring them to a boil.
- Close the pressure cooker & simmer for 10 min.
- Remove the cooker from heat.
- Meanwhile, keep appalams & vadagams ready, it is required to deep fry vadagam in low flame and appalam in medium flame.
- Also prepare the tempering & keep aside.
- When the pressure is released from cooker, mix rice & vegetables gently with a wooden spatula.
- Garnish with tempering & flavorful kootanchoru is ready to serve.
Tips & tweaks:
- I have made 2 changes in my grandma’s recipe: I have replaced red gram (thuvaram paruppu) with green gram and did not add raw banana (vazhaikai) as both the red gram & planatains cause flatulence.
- Cumin seeds, garlic, drumstick leaves, asafoetida & coconut oil are the key ingredients for making flavorful kootanchoru.
- Nowadays, we are adding crushed vadagam for the tempering, but my grandmother didn’t use them.