Kootu (Thiruvadirai)

This savoury dish is prepared on the auspicious occasion of Thiruvadirai and is eaten with the Thiruvadirai Kali (sweet treat).

This kootu is quite similar to the pitlai dishes but prepared with 5 or 7 varieties of vegetables and a slight variation in the masala mix
Traditionally vegetables like yam, eggplant and broad beans are also used – the vegetables that I have mentioned below are available in Australia during summer months as this festival normally falls in December or January.

The memory of  this dish takes me back to my childhood days and the recent visits to the Great World Heritage Temple in a small village called Madambakkam.
Madambakkam is a village about 20-25 kilometers from the heart of Chennai in India, which is our ancestral home and we have traditionally  celebrated this important day called Arudhra Darisanam year after year marking the birth of Lord Shiva – at the historic Shiva Temple in this village.
This temple which was built in 956-973 AD is a great architectural building, and this day is celebrated with great pomp and grandeur at the temple
Naturally our family holds this temple and this day in high regard with great affection and affiliation – and on our visits to Chennai in the December holiday period, the ritualistic part of the day is the early morning trip to the temple accompanied by parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews!!! 

The two dishes Kali and Kootu are the offerings made to Lord Shiva on this auspicious day!!  Some families follow the tradition of eating the two dishes as a combination.  
My preference is to eat the kootu with rice and the Kali as a dessert!

Ingredients to serve 12-14 people

Vegetables used

½ Cup of Medium sized
White Pumpkin Pieces
Yellow Pumpkin Pieces
Sweet Potato Pieces
Potato Pieces
Raw Banana Pieces
Carrot Pieces
Chokoes (Chow Chow)

¼ Cup Chickpeas
1 Cup Water (to soak the chickpeas)
1½ Cups Cooked toor dal
Small lime size Tamarind
1 Cup Hot water to soak the tamarind
3 Cups Luke warm water
2  Tbs Sambhar powder
2-3 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Turmeric Powder

For the Masala

4 Tbs Oil
½ Cup  Coriander Seeds
6 Tbs Channa dal or Yellow Split Peas
4 Tbs Urad dal
6 Red Chillies
¼ Freshly Grated or desiccated coconut

For Seasoning

2 Tsp Oil
1 Tsp. Mustard Seeds
1 Tsp. Fenugreek Seeds
1-2 Small Red Chilli
Sprig Curry Leaves

Kootu Recipe



Soak the chickpeas for about an hour with 1 cup of water.
Soak the tamarind in the cup of hot water separately for 10 minutes.
Pressure-cook the peas and the dal in separate dishes at one time until done

Heat the 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan and add the coriander seeds, channa dal, urad dal, red chillies, and asafoetida.
Fry it till the ‘dals’ turn golden brown.
Add the coconut and fry for a minute.
Grind this into a fine powder and keep aside

In a very large saucepan, Extract the tamarind juice.
Add all the vegetables, salt, turmeric powder,  asafoetida, sambhar powder and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Mash the cooked toor dal
Add the cooked peas and the mashed toor dal
Stir through half a cup of the masala powder and mix it thoroughly
Let it cook on slow fire for about 5 minutes.


Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds crackle, add the fenugreek seeds and red chilli
When the fenugreek seeds turn golden brown pour it into the gravy
Garnish it with the curry leaves.

Note:   You may microwave all the vegetables (except the raw bananas) individually for 5-6 minutes before adding it to the tamarind mix