… alias Lentil and Vegetable Curry alias Molagootal alias Molakooshyam.

This dish is from J’s native state of Tamil Nadu. A Kootu is somewhere between parippu (plain dal/lentils) and sambar. Spicier than plain dal, less spicy than sambar, thick, often eaten as a side dish with rice or rotis. “Kootu” means mingling or a combination – in this case of lentils and some vegetable, though there is also a More Kootu with buttermilk and veggies.

Tamil-speaking Palghat Iyers in Kerala have a similar dish called Molagootal – which means a “kootu” with “molagu” or chillies. Basically the same thing, with coconut oil used for the seasoning.
The difference between Tamil Iyers and Kerala’s Tamil-speaking Palghat Iyers here. :D

Keralites (who speak Malayalam) have a variant called Molakooshyam.

Keralites, atleast in Bee’s family, don’t subscribe to the “podi” (pre-made spice mix) business. The exception is the red hot idli podi which was a must with breakfast. As mentioned elsewhere, she has never seen chefs in the immediate or extended family use rasam powder or sambar powder. Each time these dishes are prepared, as also with Molagootal and Molakooshyam, fresh ingredients are ground to a paste.

Tamilians, on the other hand, are nuts about podis. Rasam podi, sambar podi, ellu podi, karuveppilai podi, parippu podi, thogayal podi, kootu podi, that podi, this podi – a lot of kitchen (and refrigerator) real estate is devoted to pre-roasted spice mixes.

Though our freezer space is limited, we always make room for kootu podi, and an extra batch of cooked dal.

Kootu podi + cooked dal + any veggie + some microwave action + some tadka fireworks
= a yummy dish within minutes.

Here we’ve used red chard.
Usually toor dal (split pigeon peas) is used for kootu, but for bottle gourd, we prefer chana dal, and for snake gourd we like moong dal.

Traditionally we use peanuts in our kootu. This time we used toasted pumpkin seeds. A nice variation.


(adapted from this recipe)

1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
3 cups any fresh or frozen veggie of choice cut into small pieces (we used red chard)
½ cup fresh or dry dessicated coconut
2 tbsp. roasted peanuts (we used pumpkin seeds) – this is optional
about 2 tbsps. kootu podi (recipe below)
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. jaggery/sugar (optional)
10-12 curry leaves

For seasoning (tadka)
1 tsp oil
½ tsp. mustard seeds
½ tsp. asafoetida
1 tsp. urad dal

1. Cook the toor dal with 2.5 cups of water and the turmeric until soft and keep aside.
2. Grind the coconut into a smooth paste.
3. Boil or steam the veggies with 1/4 cup water and a bit of salt until half done. Add the cooked dal, coconut paste, kootu podi, curry leaves and jaggery.
4. Bring to a boil and cook until the veggies are done.
5. Adjust the water and salt, add the peanuts and take it off the stove.
6. Heat the oil, add the seasoning ingredients. When the mustard seeds pop, add it to the kootu.



1 tsp. bengal gram (chana dal)
2 tsp. split black lentils (urad dal)
1 tsp. coriander seeds
4 dry red chillies
½ tsp. black peppercorns
2 tsps. ghee (or oil)
1 tsp. cumin seeds

Fry all the ingredients except cumin seeds until light brown in ghee. Let it cool, add the cumin, and powder it in a spice grinder.
We usually quadruple this batch and store it in the freezer.

Chard: Nutritional profile.
Tamil Nadu in pictures here and here.
The first Tamil cookbook (1891).
Dakshin: A Cookbook on Tamil Cuisine.

As you know, we like to spam Nupur’s inbox once a week. (All J’s fault. Every Sunday he goes, “What are we sending Nupur this week?”.)
Also sending this to Lakshmi at Veggie Cuisine for her Regional Cuisine of India event. April’s theme is Tamil Nadu Cuisine.


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  1. Ranjani says:

    i made cabbage kootu today , took pictures , etc . thought i’ll send it as K thing to one hot stove( i though we have to post it on saturday) .. i have to go with my 2nd choice…

    BTW, looks yummy :)

    hey, who said there can’t be two types of kootu? – bee

  2. musical says:

    Very versatile recipe, Bee n’ Jai. So the ghia-chana dal found her cousin here :) .

    Red chard-never tried that before, but since i love chard and kootu, am sure this combination is going to be superb. My other favorite is moong+pumpkin (but i better not talk about pumpkins for few months here. But well, the recipe features pumpkin seeds, so my favorite is in) :-D and thanks for the podi recipe.

  3. Anita says:

    A favourite in our family too. I used to go by own ‘guess-recipe’, so this is good to have.

  4. Nupur says:

    …and every week, Nupur goes, “I hope Bee and Jai cook up some more yummy goodness for the A-Z this week”! :) Thanks for the lovely lovely dish.

  5. Coffee says:

    I have relished this in my best friends home who is a Palghat Iyer :)

  6. padmaja says:

    hi bee
    i have many kerala frens and they used to make this for me whenever i go to theirs but i never tried.
    u made it look so simple and on top of that an amazing picture to make anyone want to make!!

  7. Asha says:

    Now we are talking!!! Beautiful recipe and photo.Thanks Bee!:))

  8. Sharmi says:

    I have never heard of kootu podi and pumpkin seeds added to it. very new and nice. nice entry!!


  9. Swapna says:

    Bee & Jai,
    You are simply amazing..You come up with a new post every day..I had never heard of kotu..Thanks for the recipe..Beautiful pic too

  10. Rookie says:

    I am a confused Tamil-Malayali too, and in my home, there was a difference between molagootal and molagooshyam! I don’t know enough, but I thought that molagooshyam had more molagu, less coconut and was not as versatile with vegetables. Either way, I loved both!

    I can relate to the freshly-made podis. So much so that on the rare occasion that a pre-made podi (still ground at home mind you, just pre-made) was used, it was called “podi-poota sambar” at my home :-)

    Thanks for the beautiful recipe, and for bring back memories.

    yes, there is a difference between molagootal and molakooshyam. the ingredients are almost the same, the proportions vary. – bee

  11. Sig says:

    :D Totally agree with the Tamil obsession with podis, My MIL visited last year and she brought a suitcase full of so many types of powders, we have no idea what to use where! My pantry is full of unidentifiable podis now.

    after you have them for 8-9 months and they all start getting old, they smell and look the same. then chuck them all and just keep one, for nostalgia’s sake. – bee

  12. Sushma says:

    that look gorgeous.. and I do love podis.. they go so well with Idlis and dosas..


  13. Reena says:

    lol lol @ Bees’s response to Sig’s comment.

  14. shilpa says:

    Thats a very unusual recipe Bee.Looks like an all in one, super healthy dish :) .

  15. roopa says:

    Wonderfull picture.I love kootu. Adding pumpkin seed is quite new to me.

  16. beena says:

    i was looking for this recipe:)thanks a lot jai :)

  17. Sig says:

    Ha ha ha.. and you think I want to remember those three months :D I’m waiting for the expiry date to destroy the evidence… Hope Siv doesn’t read this.

  18. Suma Gandlur says:

    Though I am neither a Malayalee nor a Tamilian, My mom prepares kootu. The only difference is instead of pepper and cumin goes something else. Anyday, I prefer kootu over sambhar.
    Is that red color due to chillies? Mine is never that red. :-(

    red chard

  19. sandeepa says:

    I liked your intro of this dish. So there are Keralites who are actually Tamil, only the ones belonging to Palghat ?

    there are tamil-speaking iyers and non-iyers spread all over kerala, but there’s a concentration of them in palghat (which is only 1/2 hour drive from coimbatore in TN) , and they have a unique cuisine. – bee

  20. Lakshmik says:

    Hi Bee

    Thanks for your entry to the RCI Event. Could you send me a picture of the same to

  21. Trupti says:

    Nice way to use Red Chard and other greens…Made something like this the other day, used toordaal-spinach and some pickle masala…so a kinda gujju podi, I guess? ;)

  22. Anonymous says:

    I made this kootu came out very good:)I never made these types of powders before ,simply becasue i would never know the quantities well.But this one explained the quantities in a simple way:)Thanks:)But it didnt look this dark.:(

    the darkness in ours came from the red chard. glad to hear you liked it. – bee

  23. Kanchana says:

    I love kootu, hated it as a kid and love it as an adult. This looks like a cool recipe, and I like your garnish. Nice picture!

  24. Linda says:

    Hi Jai and Bee, your top photo here looks so inviting — that rich dark kootu with the toasty-green pumpkin seeds is too much to resist! Just lovely, thanks :)

  25. Nature to me says:

    I am from the “molagooshyam” and “molagootal” belt. The latter used to be cooked everyday in my home. Molagooshyam has a very interesting flavour because of the combination of black pepper with moong dal and plantain or yam.

  26. pelicano says:

    Hey you two! I’ve made this for the second time tonight- excellent recipe and podi- and a very good way to use up odd veggies!

    I found a shortcut to avoid repeated food-processor use: grind a larger batch of coconut, podi and gur together, then freeze it in portions. Even quicker kootu! ;-)

    that’s a neat idea. glad you liked it – b.

  27. [...] dhaniya… and… the rest was a mystery. Now, I have made a few South Indian podis: kootu podi, bisibele hulianna podi, milagai podi; this was definitely not one of those. Well, that left only [...]

  28. [...] for the package and on a Tuesday received a lovely package in the mail. It had a very fragrant kootu podi, Bee’s favorite California chocolate, a beautiful purse from India and peanut chikki :) . [...]

  29. chemcookit says:

    Yeeeaahh! I finally got to try this mix!! I loved it – I already made two versions of the Kootu Podi. Thanks a lot!! So happy to get to cook Indian food again.

  30. [...] and Jai’s (Jugalbandi) Kootu podi (spice mix for vegetables cooked with dal) from Southern [...]

  31. arundathi says:

    I love kootu podi – and yes, we love our podis! :) i use it in a different way though – do a tadka of mustards seeds and add any vegetable. When the vegetable is 3/4 done, add some kootu podi and toss with the veggies. It gives a great crunch to the vegetables and is delicious!

  32. [...] and Bee have a Kootu Podi that they use with red chard, and a wonderful explanation of this Tamil [...]

  33. purplesque says:

    This is ridiculous. Every time I pick up an ingredient and go googling for recipes, I end up on Jugalbandi regardless. Might as well stop looking elsewhere. :)

    Will be making a Northie variation of this today. Thanks!

  34. [...] butter and hemp powder. (16 oz.) 9.00 a.m.: 1/4 cup peanuts 12.00 p.m.: 1.5 cups lentil kootu with fenugreek leaves and peanuts. 2.30 p.m.: 1 cup of yerba mate tea (yerba mate powder and water) [...]

  35. manadhii says:

    Hi This is Manadhii……
    I love kootu podi – and yes, we love our podis! i use it in a different way though – do a tadka of mustards seeds and add any vegetable. When the vegetable is 3/4 done, add some kootu podi and toss with the veggies. It gives a great crunch to the vegetables and is delicious!

  36. [...] with pea and rice protein powder, banana, strawberries and raspberries. 1 cup lentil-cabbage kootu. half cup [...]

  37. [...] fried in oil tempered with rai seeds, hing, turmeric, and red chilli powder), pumpkin kootu (using Bee and Jai’s recipe for kootu podi), served with roti and rice. My parents thoroughly enjoyed their meal! As did I. Awesome. Even if [...]

  38. [...] fried in oil tempered with rai seeds, hing, turmeric, and red chilli powder), pumpkin kootu (using Bee and Jai’s recipe for kootu podi), served with roti and rice. My parents thoroughly enjoyed their meal! As did I. Awesome. Even if [...]

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