Serving
(click to enlarge)

Ash Gourd Kootu
India - Tamil Nadu
  -   Poosanikkai Puli Kootu
Serves:
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
4 side  
***
1 hr
Yes
This is not only an excellent side dish, but sufficiently robust to be a vegetarian main dish for two. It should be served with steamed rice. As "Winter Melon", Ash Gourd can be found in most markets serving an East or South Asian community. Most of this recipe can be done well ahead.



1
1/2
1/2
1/3
1/4
1/16
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1
2
2
1
1/16
2/3
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1
1
1/16
5
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T
c
c
c
t
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T
T

T
t
t
t
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T
t
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Ash Gourd (1)
Tamarind (2)
Water
Chickpeas (3)
Toor Dal (4)
Turmeric
-- Spicing
Chana Dal (5)
Coriander Seed
Red Chili (6)
Coconut (7)
Rice Flour
Turmeric
Salt
-- Temper
Oil (8)
Mustard Seeds (9)  
Asafoetida (10)
Curry Leaves (11)
-- Garnish
Cilantro, chopped
Prep   -   (40 min - 20 min work)
  1. Remove seed mass from ASH GOURD and peel. You may have to cut it into strips narrow enough for your vegetable peeler. Cut into cubes about 3/4 inch on a side, or whatever size you prefer.
  2. Put Ash Gourd in a sauce pan with 1 cup Water. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and simmer until done (15 to 20 minutes), tumbling now and then. The pieces are done when they're translucent to the center. They'll still be a little firm on the rind edge. Drain.
  3. Soak TAMARIND in 1/2 cup near boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Press through a fine strainer, keeping the liquid and discarding the solids. Be sure to recover the paste clinging to the outside of the strainer.
  4. Measure out CHICKPEAS. If not using canned, see Note-3
  5. Rinse TOOR DAL (reduces foaming) and cook with 1/16th teaspoon Turmeric in water to cover well. In southern India they cook to a soup like consistency (often in a pressure cooker), but I like more texture, so 45 minutes to an hour is fine by me.
  6. Make Spicing:   Separately dry roast each ingredient down to but not including Rice Flour, until aromatic and darkening just a shade. Chili should be lightly browned, not black. Cool all Roasted items well, then grind to paste. Mix with Rice Flour, Turmeric and Salt.
  7. Chop Cilantro for Garnish.
RUN   -   (20 min)
  1. Bring some Water to a boil. You will need it for precisely controlling the consistency of the sauce.
  2. In a sauce pan sufficient for the recipe, heat Oil and Mustard Seeds until seeds are popping well, then stir in Curry Leaves and Asafoetida just until the Curry Leaves stop spluttering.
  3. Stir cooked Ash Gourd into the pan along with Tamarind Juice. Bring to a simmer, cover tightly and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in Spicing mix, Toor Dal and Chickpeas. If it's too dry (probably), stir in some boiling water until you get the right consistency. Simmer covered another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with plenty of steamed Jasmine rice.
NOTES:
  1. Ash Gourd:   Sold as "Winter Melon", these large gourds can be found in most Asian markets in North America. they are so large they are usually cut into wedges and bagged in plastic so you can buy by the piece. For details see our Ash Gourd page
  2. Tamarind:   The amount is for block form, which is more flavorful than concentrate. For details see our Tamarind page.
  3. Chickpeas:   The measure is for fully cooked beans. The pattern recipe calls for a "handful" of dried brown chana (Kala Chana), but allows Kabuli Chana (Garbanzos). The Kala Chana would have to be soaked overnight and then cooked, probably why the ingredient was flagged "optional". I find Kabuli Chana from a can works well enough and don't consider this ingredient optional, especially if using the recipe as a main dish.
  4. Toor Dal:   [Tur Dal] This is split and peeled Pigeon Peas, available in any market serving an Indian community, as it is a major item in the region. I avoid the version preserved with oil.
  5. Chana Dal:   [Bengal Gram] This is split and peeled Kala Chana (see Chickpeas, above). It is available in any market serving an Indian community, as it is a major item in the region.
  6. Chilis:   I use de Arbols, which make this recipe suitably hot for southern India, and quite acceptable by Southern California standards. If in doubt, use just one the first time you make it. For details see our Chili Page.
  7. Coconut:   For this recipe we presume dry grated coconut.
  8. Oil:   Coconut oil is appropriate for this region, but Avocado or Pure Olive (not virgin) can be used.
  9. Mustard Seeds:   In India, black mustard seeds are always used (except brown in Bengal), but the yellow ones will work if you don't have black.
  10. Asafoetida - Hing:   This is the resin of a giant fennel plant, used in India by sects forbidden to eat onions or garlic.   Caution: there are two forms: Pure Hing (asafoetida powder or beads) and the more common "Hing Powder". The "powder" is heavily cut with rice flour. The amount given here is for pure asafoetida. Use about 3 times as much if what you have is the "powder" form. For details see our Asafoetida page. If you don't have it, leave it out.
  11. Curry Leaves:   These are necessary for the true flavor of southern India. They are now grown in California and available fresh in many markets serving Indian communities. They aren't of much use dried. If you don't have them, leave them out - there is no acceptable substitute. For details see our Curry Leaf page.
  12. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste

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