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Chow Chow Kootu | Chayote & Lentil Stew

Even the most obsessive gourmand would love to keep a few humble dishes in their repertoire to cook up & have every now and then. What this dish lacks in the “looks” department – it more than makes up for in the taste & after-effects department. So light is this on your stomach that you’ll not feel sluggish or lazy after a meal of rice and this stew. In South India, we call this “Chow Chow Kootu”. Kootu is just a stew.
Today’s recipe for Chow Chow Kootu comes from my Ma’s kitchen. Tired of hearing me speak of ‘Fougasse‘, ‘Domatesli‘, ‘Souffle‘, ‘Gnocchi’… she suggested I get acquainted with our cuisine. For as much as I know about the cuisine of Maldives, I am painfully ignorant when it comes to my own native cuisine – supposedly the most stomach friendly cuisine – Tamil Food. Besides the ever so popular Sambar, Rasam, coconut chutney, Idli & dosa… my idea of Tamil cuisine is just a bunch of coconut-y things that are complicated to remember. However, as I circled around Ma clicking away images for this curry, I realized just how easy Tamil Food can be. I imagined there would be a 100 steps and I was stunned to find not more than 5!

I was Googling for an English word for the veggie Chow Chow. Apparently, Chow Chow is a kind of dog! :P So let me clarify – no dogs were slaughtered for this post! ;) Chow Chow is a vegetable that goes by the name ‘Chayote‘. It is also known as Bangalore Brinjal, Cho Cho etc. Its a kind of sqaush

Here’s how you make this curry –

Wash the lentils well. Soak the lentils in 2.5 cups water for 15- 30minutes. (My mom always does this coz it helps the lentils cook faster)

Peel the Chayote / Chow Chow

Dice them into 1 inch cubes

Add the cubes of the vegetable into the pan containing the lentil soaked in water

Add Salt, Asafoetida (If you can’t find Asafoetida, use garlic powder instead. It won’t taste the same but it adds another flavor)

Give it a good mix

Place it on a medium flame and let it cook.

It’ll start boiling and the top will look frothy. That’s okay. All you have to do is keep stirring it once in a few minutes to ensure the lentils don’t burn.

For additional flavor (not to mention the amazing nutrients) add grated coconut, cumin seeds & black peppercorns to a blender / food processor.

Add a few drops of water and blend it to a smooth puree

Meanwhile, stir the curry every now and then. You’re looking for the vegetable to soften and lentils to be cooked. It takes around 8-10 minutes

Add the coconut mixture to it

Mix it well and let it boil for another 5 minutes. (The best way to tell if the stew is done is to take the a bit of the vegetable and lentils on a spoon, let it cool a bit & try mashing with your hands. If it is soft & easily mash-able, it is done)

For the seasoning / tempering – heat some oil & ghee. Add split black gram.

Once that starts to splutter, add cumin seeds

Then add curry leaves

Pour the oil with seeds & curry leaves directly into the pan containing curry.

When it’s time to serve, mix well & serve hot!

The best way to eat it is with a bowl of hot rice. However, you can have this as is like a soup or with bread / chapati etc.

Chow Chow Kootu | Chayote & Lentil Stew
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 large Chayote (Chow Chow / Bangalore Brinjal)
  • ⅓ cup Yellow Green Gram (Mung Dal)
  • 1 tsp Asafoetida / Hing (if you can’t find this, use garlic powder instead. It won’t taste the same, but it adds another flavor)
  • 2 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2.5 cups Water (enough to cover the lentils & diced chayote pieces together)
  • 2 TBsp grated Coconut (preferably fresh)
  • 2 tsp Black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
For tempering
  • 1 tsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tsp Ghee / Clarified Butter (or skip & use oil)
  • 1 tsp Split black gram (Urad Dal)
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  • 2 tsp Curry Leaves
Instructions
  1. Soak the lentils in water for 15- 30minutes. (My mom always does this coz it helps the lentils cook faster)
  2. Peel the Chayote / Chow Chow & dice into 1 inch cubes
  3. Add the cubes of the vegetable into the pan containing the lentil soaked in water
  4. Add Salt, Asafoetida & Give it a good mix
  5. Place it on a medium flame and let it cook.
  6. It’ll start boiling and the top will look frothy. That’s okay. All you have to do is keep stirring it once in a few minutes to ensure the lentils don’t burn.
  7. For additional flavor (not to mention the amazing nutrients) add grated coconut, cumin seeds & black peppercorns to a blender / food processor.
  8. Add a few drops of water and blend it to a smooth puree
  9. Meanwhile, stir the curry every now and then. You’re looking for the vegetable to soften and lentils to be cooked. It takes around 8-10 minutes
  10. Add the coconut mixture to it
  11. Mix it well and let it boil for another 5 minutes
  12. For the seasoning / tempering – heat some oil & ghee. Add split black gram.
  13. Once that starts to splutter, add cumin seeds
  14. Then add curry leaves
  15. Pour the oil with seeds & curry leaves directly into the pan containing curry.
  16. When it’s time to serve, mix well & serve hot!
  17. The best way to eat it is with a bowl of hot rice. However, you can have this as is like a soup or with bread / chapati etc.
NOTES
  1. The best way to tell if the stew is done is to take the a bit of the vegetable and lentils on a spoon, let it cool a bit & try mashing with your hands. If it is soft & easily mash-able, it is done
  2. If you can't find Chayote, you could easily use any other squash vegetable

About the author: Food Blogger, Recipe developer, Meal Planner .. and Chief Eating Officer! ;-)

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Sarojini February 4, 2013, 9:41 pm

    I just love the sound of this one; so healthy!

  • Suman Arthy February 4, 2013, 8:28 pm

    kootu looks very inviting…

  • Shaffaaf Ahmed February 4, 2013, 7:33 pm

    Hi there .. im from maldives .. so how do u know about maldivian cuisine .. btw we make lentil curry and its much simpler ..

    • RK February 4, 2013, 10:08 pm

      You do? I would love to try it out. So send me the recipe :)
      I’m just a cuisine enthusiast.. I read a LOT about different cuisines & try it out..

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