Beans Poricha Kootu/Green beans and mung dal stew

Today is my first blog post for Vegan MoFo 2011, a very awesome collective vegan blogging event. So for the month of October, I’ll be blogging a lot about vegan food and discovering tons of new stuff from 650+ other blogs.

I’d spent quite a bit of time about what the first post would be and fantasized about making something complex and time consuming, or kicking off with a sweet dish like any self-respecting Indian would do. But the week came and went and soon it was a Friday evening (after a long day at work) and I had to make a quick and nourishing meal in under an hour for couple of friends who were joining me for dinner.

As much as I’d love to throw a fabulous spread, the reality is that I am (like most others) starved for time and need something that is healthy, tasty and quick. It’s no wonder that the humble south indian kootu has a permanent place in my recipe repertoire. And to think I used to turn my nose up at this dish when I was young! Poritha means fried in Tamil and kootu is a general-purpose name for a stew that contains vegetables and lentils/beans seasoned with spices. I really don’t know what is fried here, as I certainly did no such thing. There really are innumerable combinations, and this is definitely not the first or last time a kootu will feature on this blog.

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But the real icing on the cake is: it is extremely rare that I come across a poricha kootu recipe that is not vegan – even the omnis make this vegan! To me, that is alone worth extolling its virtues.

Ingredients:

  • Split mung dal, skinned – ½ cup
  • Green beans, chopped – 2 cups
  • Salt – to taste
  • Turmeric – a generous pinch
  • Water – enough to cover the vegetables and dal in the pot
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Frozen green beans to the rescue:

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Grind following to make a paste:
  • Poppy seeds – 1 heaped tsp
  • Grated coconut (I used frozen) – 2 tbsps, packed
  • Green chilies – 4 (use less if you like less heat)
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For seasoning:
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
  • Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
  • Asafetida – a pinch, optional
  • Curry leaves – optional – 3-4 leaves. [I like it chopped using a pair of scissors]
  • Cilantro, chopped – a small handful

 Directions: 

  1. In a pot or pressure cooker, semi-cook the split mung dal with salt and turmeric with enough water to
  2. When it’s about 70% cooked, add the green beans to the cooking dal
  3. In a coffee grinder, grind poppy seeds, green chilies and coconut to form a smooth paste. [Smell it now and it’ll be divine]
  4. Add this paste to the dal-green beans mixture and stir well.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

To season:

  • Heat the oil in a small pan/skillet.
  • When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafetida.
  • Add curry leaves if using.
  • Wait until the mustard crackles and remove from heat.
  • Add this mixture to the kootu.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy.

 I had this with brown rice and a mixed vegetable stir fry:

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