It had been a while since I bought veggies from the Indian store, so when I went to the Indian store last Friday, I picked up some raw plantains and okra. The okras were made into some really tasty stuffed okra along with some garlic dal for Monday night dinner.
As for the plantains, I had Kaalan in mind when I picked them up from the shelf but that ended up in this kootu, instead of Kaalan. I was in the mood for something tangy, something with a yogurt base to make with the plantains and wanted to do a twist to the regular kaalan I always make. I took out a bunch of cookbooks and started going over them. I came across this recipe in Southern Spice for a Vazhaithandu Moru Kootu ( Plantain Stems in a Yogurt based sauce). The ingredients and method looked interesting. It was very close to the way I make kaalan but a lot different too. I obviously did not have any plantain stems,so I thought, what the heck, plantains will do. And it did do well in the recipe, I must say
The spices that were roasted and ground with the coconut, reminded me of a particular ground coconut sauce based curry that amma and paatti make. It was called Thengai Aracha Kuzhambu, simply translated curry with ground coconut. Simple, isnt it? That is another reason why I was attracted to this recipe.
Chandra Padmanabhan’s recipe asked for cocout milk also to be added to this and I did not want to make it any more complicated and rich. There was already ground coconut in this recipe along with yogurt and I decided to keep it to just that and skip the coconut milk part altogether.
Vazhaikkai Moru Kootu – The Recipe
Recipe adapted from Southern Spice by Chandra Padmanabhan
- 1 raw plantain – peeled and cut into cubes ( if you do this well ahead, keep the cut plantains in some water mixed with a little curd as that will keep it from turning black)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- salt, to taste
For the coconut-spice mixture:
- 1/2 cup grated coconut (tip while grinding frozen grated coconut: if you are grinding frozen grated coconut, heat it in the microwave for 20-30 secs after defrosting it so that it grinds to a smoother paste with less oil being produced)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 4/5 dry red chillies
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp Chana dal / Bengal Gram
- 1/2 tsp asafoetida
- 1 green chilli, chopped
- 2 tsp rice flour
- 1/2 tsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- a sprig of curry leaves
- 2-3 dry red chillies
Bring about 2-3 cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pan and add the plantain cubes to it along with the turmeric powder. Let it cook.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in another pan. Add the fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies, chana dal and asafoetida to it. Once the fenugreek seeds and chana dal turn color, turn off the heat. Do not let the fenugreek seeds burn as they turn pretty nastily bitter. Once off the heat, add the cumin seeds, green chilli and rice flour. Add this to the coconut and grind to a smooth paste with a little water (2-3 tbsp) in a food processor or chutney jar of a mixer grinder.
Check if the plantains are cooked well. If they are, then add the ground coconut mix to it and let it come to a boil once again. This takes care of any raw spice smell / taste that may be there in the ground mix. Add some salt to the mix. Switch off the heat and add the yogurt to this. The reason why we add yogurt after switch off the heat is to make sure it does not curdle.
In a separate pan, heat oil for the tempering. Add the mustard seeds, once they splutter, add the chillies and curry leaves. Pour this over the plantain-yogurt curry. Serve hot with rice and any vegetable side.