Poosanikkai (Winter Melon) Kootu

What does 'MESS' mean? Untidy, dirty... But we, in South India, more precisely in Tamilnadu, have an all together different meaning for this word that goes off on a tangent. For us, MESS means a homely restaurant!!! :)

Well, we have many 'maami mess' in Chennai, usually hidden gems and a insider secret that only the locals will know. These 'mess' serve authentic home made food, NO FRILLS, at a very reasonable rate. So it is extremely popular with bachelors and working couples. One thing you shouldn't be looking for in these places is ambiance. And they may look untidy too (probably why it is called so!)

But most of them are well maintained, hygienic and serves delicious food. And it would not be fair, if I don't mention the ever-famous-Andhra-mess. There will usually be one near every IT office and half the crowd in the office will be seen there gorging on their unlimited meals!!

Coming to our recipe today, Poosanikkai / Winter melon / Ash gourd as it is called is ...... Well, I have nothing to write about the recipe today... Except that this kootu, I tasted in one of these mess, is my all-time-favorite. And it reminds me how much I miss Chennai...

Poosanikkai Kootu
Winter Melon cooked with lentils, ground coconut and spices

What we need:

Poosanikkai / Winter melon - 2 cups, cleaned and diced into small cubes
Moong dal / Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Coconut - 1/4th cup
Cumin (Jeera) seeds - 1 tbsp
Ginger - a small piece Optional
Green Chilli - 2 nos.
Chana dal / Kadala Paruppu - 2 tbsp
Salt - as needed

To temper:

Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Broken Urid dal - 1 tsp
Red Chilli - 2 nos.
Asafoetida - a big pinch
Curry leaves - a sprig

How to do:

1. Soak the chana dal for 30 minutes.
2. Peel the skin of poosanikkai, remove the seeds and dice them into small cubes.
3. Pressure cook the dal with a pinch of oil for 3 whistles. Mash well and set aside.
4. Grind the coconut with ginger, green chilli, cumin into a fine paste adding little water.

Making the kootu:
1. Place the diced vegetable, along with soaked chana dal in a vessel. Add enough water to cover them all. Turn on the heat to medium and cook covered for about 20 minutes till the chana dal is soft and the vegetable is cooked.
2.  Now add the ground coconut paste and cooked dal. Add water to adjust the consistency.
3. Bring it to a boil and remove.
4. In a small pan, heat oil and add mustard. Once they start to crack, add the broken urid dal, red chilli.
5. As the dals turn light brown, throw in the curry leaves, asafoetida, stir well. Add this to the kootu.
6. Serve hot with rice, dal and generous helping of ghee.

1. Coconut oil goes well for the tempering. It increases the flavour of the kootu so much.
2. Asafoetida is one of the main flavoring ingredient, so try not to omit it.
3. Adding Chana dal is purely optional.

Do try out and let me know if you liked it. See you all soon with another interesting recipe.


kitchen queen said...

yummilicious and awesome kootu and my favourite too.

Priya Suresh said...

Wonderful looking delicious kootu..Inviting.

Saraswathy Balakrishnan said...

comforting kootu dear:)

Saraswathy Balakrishnan
Taste of Saras Kitchen

Unknown said...

Yummy poosani kootu. I like it.

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