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
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
Salt to taste1 tbsp coconut oil
Pots n pans
• 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.
• 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).
• Check the doneness of winter melon, again slightly crisp.
• Add the coconut spice paste and let come to a gentle boil.
• Spice oil – Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in skillet. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add urad and then curry leaves and hing.
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.