The recipe that I am going to tell you about today – Pachai Tomato Kootu or a South Indian-style curry made out of raw, green tomatoes – comes from my maternal uncle. This uncle of mine never married, because he wanted to devote his life to taking care of his parents. He grew up as a spoilt brat, the only son among three sisters, and never had to do any household work. However, when he took it upon himself to care for his parents after all his sisters were married and left, he morphed, slowly and gradually, into a housekeeper and cook par excellence. Today, his father and my maternal grandpa is no more, but he is still devotedly caring for my maternal grandma, who can’t see. Sigh!
So, this kootu recipe, this is my Mama‘s specialty. I am not very fond of the South Indian kootus, but I love this one to bits. It tastes delectable, the green tomatoes lending it a gentle sourness that goes perfectly with the spices in the curry. I learnt the exact proceedure for making this curry from my Mama on one of our visits to his place, and it is now a hot favourite at our house too. (That reminds me, I should really buckle up and get down to the project that I badly want to get around to – the learning of our family’s special recipes from the elders)!
This kootu goes best with piping hot rice, which has a generous helping of ghee poured over it, but it tastes great with rotis too.
Now, let’s get around to telling you how to make this curry?
Ingredients (for about 4 generous servings):
6 green, raw tomatoes (Choose firm ones that are either entirely green or largely green with a speckling of red – remember that they should be raw and not entirely ripe)
2 fistfuls of moong daal
Salt, to taste
A few curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons of oil
A pinch of asafoetida
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons dry coriander seeds (dhania)
3-4 dry red chillies, depending upon your taste
2 tablespoons of chana daal
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
- Wash and chop the green tomatoes into large pieces. Wash the moong daal thoroughly in running water a couple of times, and drain out the excess water. Pressure cook the chopped green tomatoes and moong daal along with a little water, adding salt to taste and turmeric powder. Give it about 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep the cooked tomatoes and moong daal aside.
- Dry roast the dry red chillies (broken), chana daal and dry coriander seeds till the dal turns brown and starts emanating a fragrance. Let this mixture cool down completely and then grind it to a paste along with a little water and the grated coconut. Keep aside.
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, and allow them to splutter. Add the asafoetida.
- Add the boiled moong daal and tomato pieces to the pan, as well as the ground coconut paste. Check for seasonings, and add red chilli powder and salt if needed.
- Add curry leaves, and a little more water if you think the curry is too thick. Mix well.
- Let the curry cook on a medium flame for 7-10 minutes, stirring intermittently. When everything is well incorporated together, switch off the gas.
- Serve the kootu with rice or rotis.