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

Updated: Mar 22

Kootus also spelt kutu, is a traditional dish from South India, specifically Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The core of this dish is a vegetable or combination cooked with lentils and coconut. This recipe for Bitter gourd and mango kootu provides more on kootus.

Chow chow, also called chayote, is believed to have originated 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 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. It is the perfect side dish for a large table, as the mild flavours do not clash with stronger dishes.

Pure Vegetarian is a lovely cookbook filled with traditional Tamil Nadu recipes. The book is filled with popular dishes that are commonly found but cooked supremely and rarer recipes that are unique. This is a cookbook for gourmets 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, 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 cook, dry roast the urad dal, dried red chillies, fenugreek, and sesame seeds individually until 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 until 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 until the paste thickens 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 until golden, then 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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