Moru kootan is a very typical Kerala dish which is a yoghurt coconut curry where usually a vegetable like green(raw) plantain or chembu (taro root) is cooked in a yoghurt /buttermilk (moru in malayalam) and coconut sauce. ‘Kootan’ means any ‘curry’ that can be had with rice.
When I first started cooking kerala dishes in the US after my marriage, I could never get the ‘moru kootan’ right. I would call amma long distance and tell her how my ‘moru kootan’ did not taste like her’s at all. Then when my parents visited us , I watched her cook it and of course she succeeded in making a great ‘moru kootan’ even with the store bought yoghurt that would not turn sour in the winter weather. ! She added a tiny piece of tamarind to get the sourness and it worked splendidly!
So here I am sharing not just her recipe but her tips and tricks too for a perfect ‘moru kootan’ everytime. You can make moru kootan using chembu (arabi in hindi and taro root in English) or green plantain or white pumpkin or even raw/green mango. The method that I show below will remain the same except for the cooking time initially needed to cook the vegetable.
This recipe will make about 4 servings of moru kootan used as a side dish with rice Ingredients: Chembu(arabi in hindi or taro root in english) or green plantain or white pumpkin - cut into 1 inch cubes , about 1 cup 1/2 tsp red chilli powder 1/2 tsp turmeric powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 tiny piece (about a 1/4 inch ball) of tamarind 3/4 cup grated coconut (fresh or fresh frozen that has been thawed to room temperature) 1tsp cumin seeds 1/4 tsp turmeric powder 1 cup plain Dahi or yoghurt (thick) coconut oil 1 tbsp mustard seeds 1 tsp methi (fenugreek )seeds 1 tsp fresh curry leaves - 1 sprig 2 medium size dry red chills, broken into halves
Take the cut vegetable in a pot and add about 1 cup water. (You may need to adjust this quantity depending upon the vegetable you are using for the moru kootan. -For chembu(arabi) and green plantain, about 1 cup is needed , for white pumpkin, you will need less since it cooks faster).
Add the red chilli powder, the turmeric powder , the tamarind and the salt and cover the pot with a lid and cook on medium flame for about 5 minutes. Check after 5 minutes stirring the vegetables a little bit. If they have become slightly soft by now, take the lid off and cover for further 2-3 minutes till there is very little water left. Turn the stove off.
Next take the coconut in a blender (or food processor) and add the cumin seeds to it and the 1/4 tsp turmeric powder (note I have noted turmeric twice in the ingredients list for this reason as I am using it twice). Take 1 cup of warm water and blend the coconut and cumin mixture till it is nice and fine. (about 2-3 minutes on high for a regular blender).
Next pour the mixture into the pot with the cooked vegetable and stir. Now put the stove back on low to medium heat till you see a few (about 3-4 bubbles) coming up. This should take about a minute or so and immediately turn the heat off. ( This is a very important step otherwise your yoghurt will curdle)
Finally, for the tadka, heat coconut oil in a tadka (small pan) pan. Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the methi (fenugreek) seeds and heat for about a minute on low flame until the methi seeds change color to golden brown. Next add the curry leaves and the dry red chillies and put the heat off immediately. Pour this garnish oil into the pot with the sauce and stir.
This curry keeps well for 3-4 days and is really very comforting food especially when you feel like having something light. Nothing like some plain rice, moru kootan and a piece of mango pickle!