Choko Kootu

Kootu is generally  lentil or yoghurt based dish with one or more vegetables
This pepper kootu or Milagootal as it is called in Tamil Nadu is by far the tastiest and my favourite in the kootu category as the fried urad dal and peppercorn enhances the flavour, taste and makes it very interesting!

This dish is generally an accompaniment to main dishes like Sambhar,  Kozhambu and can be eaten with rotis or puris as well.
The dals or lentils mentioned in this preparation can be either directly cooked till it softens or can be pressure-cooked
Kootu is highly nutritious because of the combination of lentils and vegetables and is well balanced like most other dishes.

Ingredients to serve 6 people

1-2 Cups Diced Chokoes
¼ Cup Moong Dal 2 Tbs Channa dal or Yellow Split Peas
3 Cups Water
½ Tsp Turmeric Powder
¼ inch piece Asafoetida or
½ Tsp Asafoetida Powder

For the Masala

2 Tsp Oil
½ Tsp Black Peppercorn
1 Tsp Urad Dal
2 Tbs Freshly Grated Coconut (Optional)
3-4 Tbs Water
1-2 Tsp. Salt

For Seasoning

1 Tbs Oil
1 Tsp. Mustard seeds
few Curry leaves


Dry roast the moong dal and Channa dal or Yellow Split Peas in a heated pan for about a minute.
Pour the 2 cups of water and let it boil on medium heat till the dal softens.
The diced vegetable can be directly added to the pan
Stir in the salt, asafoetida, turmeric powder and the remainder of the water.
Let it cook for about 4-6 minutes on medium heat.

In the meantime heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a small pan
Add the urad dal and fry it till it turns light golden brown
The peppercorn has to be added and fried for about 30 seconds
Grind this with the freshly grated coconut and the water into a soft mixture
Add this mixture to the cooked dal and vegetables and let it simmer for about 2-3 minutes.

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds
When it crackles, pour this into the dal
Garnish it with a few curry leaves

Note: Eggplant, Beans, Double Beans are some of the vegetables that can be prepared in a similar manner
The dal in all ‘kootus’ can be cooked in the pressure cooker for quick results.
Add double the quantity of water to the quantity of dal that is being used.

My preference is to cook the dal and vegetables directly in a pan as the dal when pressure cooked turns mushy.
Cooking the vegetables in the microwave can be avoided as cooking directly in the pan is also quick and very effective!