Delicious Kootu Recipe: Traditional South Indian Stew with Moong Dal & Vegetables

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Craving a hearty, comforting dish that’s both nutritious and bursting with flavor? Look no further than kootu, a traditional South Indian stew. This delightful blend of lentils and vegetables simmered in aromatic spices offers a perfect balance of taste and health. Whether you’re new to South Indian cuisine or a seasoned fan, kootu is sure to become a favorite on your menu.


To make a delicious kootu, you will need a variety of fresh vegetables, lentils, and aromatic spices. Gather the following ingredients to get started.

Main Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow moong dal (split yellow lentils) – rinsed
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (such as carrots, beans, squash) – chopped
  • 1 medium onion – finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • Salt to taste

With these ingredients on hand, you’re ready to dive into creating this flavorful South Indian stew.

Equipment Needed

To prepare a delicious kootu, you will need the following equipment:

  • Pressure Cooker: Essential for cooking the lentils quickly and evenly.
  • Large Pot or Pan: Ideal for sautéing vegetables and combining all ingredients.
  • Blender or Grinder: Helpful for grinding coconut and spices into a smooth paste.
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon: Necessary for stirring the ingredients without damaging the cookware.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: Required for chopping vegetables, onions, and garlic efficiently.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Ensure precise measurements of ingredients such as lentils, spices, and grated coconut.

Having these tools ready will streamline your preparation process, making it easier to create a flavorful kootu.


To make a delicious and nutritious kootu, follow these steps to prepare your ingredients efficiently.

Cleaning and Chopping Vegetables

  1. Select Fresh Vegetables: Choose fresh mixed vegetables such as carrots, beans, potatoes, and spinach.
  2. Wash Thoroughly: Rinse all the vegetables under cold running water to remove dirt and pesticides.
  3. Peel if Necessary: Peel vegetables like carrots and potatoes using a vegetable peeler.
  4. Chop Uniformly: Dice the vegetables into uniform pieces about 1-inch in size for even cooking.

Soaking Moong Dal

  1. Measure Lentils: Take 1/2 cup of yellow moong dal.
  2. Rinse Well: Place the lentils in a bowl and rinse them under cold water until the water runs clear.
  3. Soak Lentils: Add enough water to cover the lentils by at least an inch and let them soak for 20-30 minutes before cooking.

Following these preparation steps, you ensure that your ingredients are ready for creating a flavorful kootu dish.

Cooking Process

Now that you have prepared the ingredients, it’s time to start cooking your kootu. Follow these steps for a delicious and wholesome dish.

Cooking Lentils

  1. Rinse and Drain: Rinse 1/2 cup of yellow moong dal thoroughly under running water until the water runs clear.
  2. Pressure Cook: Add the rinsed dal to a pressure cooker with 1 1/2 cups of water. Close the lid and cook for about 3-4 whistles on medium heat.
  3. Release Pressure: Allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the lid.

Cooking Vegetables

  1. Heat Oil: In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
  2. Add Onions and Garlic: Once hot, add one finely chopped onion and two minced garlic cloves to the pot. Sauté until they turn golden brown.
  3. Add Mixed Vegetables: Add your chosen mixed vegetables (about 2 cups) such as diced carrots, beans, potatoes, or zucchini.
  4. Cook Until Tender: Stir well and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Combining Spices and Simmering

  1. Grind Coconut Paste: In a blender, combine 1/4 cup grated coconut, one teaspoon cumin seeds, two dried red chilies (adjust according to spice preference), and a little water to form a smooth paste.
  2. Combine With Dal And Vegetables: Add this spice mixture along with cooked lentils into the pot with vegetables.
  3. Simmer Together: Mix everything well and simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes allowing all flavors to meld together beautifully.

Assembling the Kootu

To assemble the kootu, follow these steps:

  1. Combine Cooked Lentils And Vegetables:
  • Once your lentils are cooked to perfection and your vegetables are tender, combine them in a large pot.
  • Stir gently to mix without mashing the vegetables.
  1. Add Coconut Paste:
  • Add the freshly ground coconut paste into the pot.
  • Stir well to ensure even distribution of flavors.
  1. Season With Spices:
  • Incorporate salt according to taste.
  • Add turmeric powder and sambar powder for an added depth of flavor.
  • Mix thoroughly so that all ingredients are well-coated with spices.
  1. Simmer The Mixture:
  • Place the pot on medium heat.
  • Allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes until all flavors meld together beautifully.
  • Stir occasionally to avoid sticking or burning at the bottom of the pot.
  1. Prepare Tempering (Optional But Recommended):
  • Heat a small pan with oil or ghee over medium heat.
  • Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  • Toss in curry leaves and dry red chilies, sautéing briefly until aromatic.
  1. Incorporate Tempering Into Kootu:
  • Pour this tempering mixture over your simmered kootu for an extra layer of flavor and aroma.
  • Mix gently but thoroughly.
  1. Adjust Consistency:
    Adjust consistency by adding water if needed; some prefer their kootu thicker while others like it slightly runnier. Simmer for another couple of minutes after adjusting consistency.

Serving Suggestions

Kootu pairs wonderfully with various accompaniments, enhancing its flavors and making it a versatile dish suitable for different meals. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your kootu experience:

Pairing With Rice

Serve kootu over steamed white rice or brown rice for a traditional South Indian meal. The mildly spiced kootu complements the simplicity of the rice, creating a balanced and wholesome dish.

  1. Cook 2 cups of white rice or brown rice as per package instructions.
  2. Ladle generous portions of hot kootu over the cooked rice.
  3. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro if desired.

Accompanying Roti Or Chapati

Kootu can also be enjoyed with roti or chapati for a hearty and nutritious meal.

  1. Prepare 8-10 rotis or chapatis using whole wheat flour.
  2. Serve a bowl of warm kootu alongside the rotis.
  3. Optionally add a side of pickle or yogurt to enhance flavors.

Complementing A Full South Indian Meal

Incorporate kootu into a larger South Indian spread featuring sambar, rasam, and poriyal (stir-fried vegetables).

  1. Place small bowls of sambar, rasam, and poriyal on your dining table.
  2. Add a generous serving of kootu in another bowl.
  3. Serve all dishes together with steamed rice for an elaborate feast.

As A Side Dish For Idli Or Dosa

Kootu can serve as an excellent side dish for breakfast items like idli or dosa.

  1. Steam 8-10 idlis or prepare dosas as per your preference.
  2. Serve each idli/dosa with a spoonful of warm kootu on top.
  3. Offer coconut chutney and tomato chutney on the side for added flavor.

Adding Crunch With Papadums

Enhance your meal by pairing kootu with crispy papadums (thin lentil wafers).

  1. Fry or microwave 4-6 papadums until they are crisp.
  2. Serve them alongside bowls of hot kootu and rice.
  3. Break pieces off the papadum and scoop up the delicious stew for an enjoyable texture contrast.


Kootu is a versatile and nutritious addition to your culinary repertoire. With its rich blend of vegetables, spices, and coconut, it offers a delightful balance of flavors that can elevate any meal. Whether you pair it with rice or roti or enjoy it as an accompaniment to idli or dosa kootu fits seamlessly into various dishes.

Experimenting with different vegetables and spices can help you discover new favorite combinations. Plus serving it with crispy papadums provides an added crunch that complements the dish perfectly. So go ahead and try making kootu at home for a wholesome satisfying experience!

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