கூட்டாஞ்சோறு ... this is a classic dish from the region of Thirunelveli [Nellai] which is in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. It is a one pot flavourful mix of rice, lentils, vegetables and greens. It is also referred with another name "Kadambha Saadham" and like any other traditional dish from Tamil Nadu this is slowly disappearing from our daily menus.
If you have a chance do question the older generation about their favorite dish especially when travelling out of station to visit temples... I am sure 90% of them would vote for this dish.
The secret to a tasty kootanchoru is the use of parboiled rice and country vegetables, cooking them in a ground paste made of pearl onions and coconut and tempering with gingelly oil, asafoetida and vadagam.
By country vegetables, I mean drumstick, brinjal, raw banana, raw mango and avaraikai [broad beans] which are ususally grown in ones own backyards. Classically leaves from the Moringa tree [drumstick leaves] and arai keerai [Amaranthus Tritis] are added to the dish.
So you can imagine the nutritional value of the dish. As all the ingredients are home grown, they are 100% organic, readily available and easy on the pocket. There is no need for any side dish for this rice preparation, simple appalam or vathal made from rice porridge[koozh vathal] is enough.
Like any other classic recipe which gets adapted to different styles of cooking, this simple dish has undergone adaptations to suit individual palates. This is how the dish is prepared in our household. You can use potatoes, cauliflower, beans etc to prepare the dish. More modern versions use sambhar powder to flavour the dish...
Serves 4-5 people.
Preparation time: 20 minutes.
Cooking time: 40 minutes.
For the recipe:
Par boiled rice: 2 cups
Thuvaram paruppu : 1/2 cup
Raw mango: 2.
Raw banana: 2-3 [wash, peel, slice into 1/3 inch pieces and soak in water ].
Durmstick :2 [cut into 2 inch pieces].
Avaraikkai: 2 handfuls [cut to 1 inch pieces].
Brinjal: 6-8 [wash, quarter and soak in water].
Murungai keerai: 2 handfuls.
Arai keerai: a handful.
Tamarind: small lime size ball.
Tumeric powder: 1 tsp.
Salt: to taste.
Gingelly oil: 2 tbsp
Warm water:6 cups.
Pearl onions: 8-10.
Cumin seeds: 2 tsp.
Red chillies: 3-4 .
Coconut scrapings: 3 tbsp.
Gingelly oil: 2 -3 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.
Urad dal: 1 tsp.
Asafoetida powder: 3/4 tsp.
Talipu vadagam: 1-2 tsp.
1.Wash the rice and dal seperatly twice and soak for 20 minutes. Wash the greens and reserve .In the meantime, grind the onions, coconut, cumin seeds and red chillies to a smooth paste. Cut the mango to bite size pieces.
2. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup warm water, mash, extract the juice and reserve the juice until later use.
3.Heat a deep pressure cooker on medium. Add 2 tbsp of oil. Add the ground masala paste, tumeric powder, salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the tamarind extract and cook for 5 more minutes until the raw aroma of tamarind disappears.
3.Drain the rice and dal completely.Add the rice, dal, vegetables and greens to the pan. Gently mix and add the water.
4.Close the pan and cook for 3 whistles. Remove from flame and let the pressure settle down.
5.Heat the remaining gingelly oil in a small pan. Splutter the mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida powder and vadagam.
6.Add to the cooked dish and mix gently until well incorporated.
Serve hot with fried appalams or vathal....
Notes: Be careful of the amount of water to cook the rice and dal as excess water with make the dish go very mushy which isn't very appetising. Increase or decrease the amount of vegetables added.
If the rice and dal are not soaked, then you need to add 1/2 cup of water more to get them cooked to until just done.
Try sticking to the authentic ingredients as much as possible for a flavoursome dish.
Scribbled by Reva