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Chow chow and green pea kootu (Chow chow patani kootu)

Updated: Jun 2

Kootus, also spelled kutu, is a traditional dish from South India, Both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The core to this dish is a vegetable, or combination, cooked with lentils and coconut. More on kootus in this recipe for Bitter gourd and mango kootu.

Chow chow, also called chayote, is believed to have originated in the region around Mexico and Guatemala. The plant grows well in any tropical climate and is very nutritious. It is being actively researched in labs for both nutritional and medicinal properties. The pear-shaped fruit is plain with a mildly sweet flavour and a crunchy texture. In India, it is generally cooked, either as a stir-fry or in curries and dals, but in Central and South America it can also be eaten raw in salads.

This kootu is an unusual combination of vegetables. Chow chow and peas. The kootu is mild with creamy notes from the coconut and light spice. This is the perfect side dish for a large table as the mild flavours do not clash with stronger dishes on the table.

Pure Vegetarian is a lovely cookbook filled with very traditional recipes from Tamil Nadu. The book is filled with popular dishes that are commonly found but cooked supremely, as well as, rarer recipes that are unique. this is a cookbook for those gourmets who are looking to step out of the ordinary in South Indian cuisine.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


2 chow chow

1 cup shelled peas, frozen ok

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the spice mix:

2 teaspoons black gram (urad) dal

4-5 dried red chillies

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

1/2 cup fresh grated coconut

1/2 cup water

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon oil

To temper:

1 tablespoon oil

4-6 cashew nuts

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon black gram (urad) dal

10 curry leaves

Peel and quarter the chow chows. Remove the seeds and piths. Add the chow chows to the water with salt and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 12-15 minutes till the chow chows have softened. i like to leave them with a bit of bite and not have them completely mushy.

Add the peas and simmer for 1 minute and take off the stove. When the peas are cooked through and still have a bite, drain and set aside.

While the chow chows are cooking, dry roast the urad dal, dried red chillies, fenugreek seeds and sesame seeds individually till aromatic and lightly toasted. Cool and grind to a fine powder in a spice mill. Add the asafoetida and set aside.

Add the spice powder to a small blender with the coconut, water and salt and blitz till you have a smooth paste.

Heat the oil in a small pot or wok and add the coconut-spice paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes till the paste begins to thicken and gives out droplets of oil. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Add the cooked vegetables and mix in well. Simmer for an additional 3-4 minutes.

heat the kootu and ladle it into a deep bowl. The curry should have a thick consistency.

Heat the remaining oil in a small pot and add the cashew nuts. fry till golden and add the rest of the ingredients. fry for 10 seconds and pour over the kootu. Serve immediately as a side dish with chapattis and/or rice.

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