Sorakkai Kootu, for the uninitiated is a South Indian stew made with bottle gourd, lentils aka dal, spices, coconut and curry leaves. This protein-packed dish is delicious, healthy, comforting and goes well over hot rice or with chapati or paratha. Make this on the stovetop in a regular pot or in the instant pot with my instructions.
Sorakkai is the Tamil name for bottle gourd & it is a staple in the Indian cuisine. Bottle gourd is a low-carb, low-sodium, low-calorie and low fat veggie, with high-fibre and high amount of antioxidants.
So it is used very often to make stir fry dishes, curries, stew, dal and even chutney in Indian cuisine. This sorakkai kootu is just another way of cooking the veggie.
Kootu is a traditional specialty from the Tamil Cuisine, made with lentils, vegetables, coconut, spices and curry leaves. A festive and wedding meal is incomplete without a kootu being served as a part of the meal.
It is a popular dish among the vegetarians and is made with any vegetable or even with mixed vegetables. Variations of this exist in parts of Karnataka and Kerala.
Kootu can be made with vegetables like pumpkin, bottle gourd, cabbage, ridge gourd, carrots and even with leafy greens.
Various kinds of lentils are used to make kootu. Toor dal, moong dal, chana dal and even legumes like black chickpeas are sometimes used.
About Sorakkai Kootu
The process to make Sorakkai kootu begins by cooking the lentils with bottle gourd until soft and tender. A coarse paste made with roasted dal, cumin, red chilies and coconut is later simmered with the kootu.
The dish is tempered with spices like mustard and red chilies to infuse another layer of flavors.
I have used moong dal here. But you can also use toor dal or a mix of toor and moong dal.
Apart from infusing nutty flavor & taste to the dish, fresh coconut also adds natural fats and this is the reason kootu dishes taste delicious even without the addition of more oil or ghee.
As with any other kootu, this recipe is also made with very little additional fats ghee or oil, which is used for tempering the whole spices. To make the dish vegan, simply substitute ghee with oil.
You can also add the left overs of this kootu to your paratha dough and make dal veggie paratha.
How to Make Sorakkai Kootu (Stepwise Photos)
1. Add half cup moong dal to a pot or pressure cooker. Rinse it well a few times and drain the water. Pour 1½ cups water and begin to heat on a medium flame. You can also use toor dal in place of moong dal if you want.
2. Meanwhile prepare the bottle gourd. Rinse it well under running water and cut it to 2 parts. Taste test and discard if the bottle gourd tastes bitter. Gourds that taste bitter are highly toxic and unfit for consumption.
Peel and chop bottle gourd to 1* ½ inch pieces. Young bottle gourds do not have seeds and can be used without having to remove any thing. Mature gourds however have seeds, remove & discard the spongy interior and the seeds.
3. Add the chopped bottle gourd to the dal. I used about 1 ½ to 2 cups. Bring the water to a rolling boil, reduce the heat. If using a pressure cooker, cover and pressure cook for 2 to 3 whistles until the lentils and sorakkai are soft. To cook in a pot, let them simmer uncovered until tender. If required you may add half cup more boiling water as you cook.
4. If you do not have tamarind paste ready, soak 1 tablespoon tamarind in a bowl with ¼ cup hot water. Soak it to soften. Squeeze, strain and set aside till needed.
Make Kootu Paste
5. Meanwhile, add 2 to 5 dried red chilies and 1½ tablespoons chana dal to a small tadka pan. Dry roast until golden and aromatic. Switch off and add ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds. Cool them and add to a grinder along with 4 tablespoons fresh coconut.
6. Pour little water and make a slightly coarse paste.
Make Sorakkai Kootu
7. When the dal and sorakkai are soft cooked, add the ground paste and turmeric. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes. If the kootu looks too thick, you may pour little hot water.
8. Add 1 tablespoon tamarind paste and half teaspoon salt. Make sure the lentils and sorakkai are tender before adding the tamarind, as the acidic ingredient can hinder them from cooking further.
9. Stir and cook till it begins to bubble. Taste test and add more salt or tamarind if required.
10. Pour 1 tablespoon ghee or oil to a tadka pan. When the ghee becomes hot, add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds and 1 or half broken dried red chilli. As soon as the red chilli becomes crisp, add curry leaves and lastly a pinch of hing. If your kootu is not spicy enough, you may add some red chili powder to the tempering just before you turn off the stove. Though this step is not traditional, it helps you fix the problem.
Pour the hot tempering to the dal. Stir and serve sorakkai kootu with phulka or rice.
There are numerous ways to make a kootu recipe. This is the way we make it at home. Here are my tips.
Choice of dal: I have used moong dal here. You can use any dal of your choice like toor dal or even a mix of toor and moong dal. I made this during the hot summer days. Since moong dal is cooling to the body I used it.
Kootu paste: The key to a nice and flavorful kootu is the paste we make with roasted ingredients. This not only adds aroma but also enhances the taste of the sorakkai kootu.
Sorakkai: Always taste the sorakkai before cooking. Avoid using bitter tasting veggie as bitter tasting bottle gourd is said to be toxic.
Sorakkai Kootu (Bottle Gourd Kootu)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ to 1 dried red chilli (broken)
- 1 Pinch hing (asafetida)
- 3 to 4 tablespoon coconut grated
- 2 to 5 dried red chilies (adjust to taste)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin
- 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon chana dal (bengal gram)
- Soak tamarind in a bowl with ¼ cup hot water and set aside to soak. Squeeze and strain it later. Set aside.
- Add dal to a pot or pressure cooker and rinse well till the water runs clear. Pour 1½ to 2 cups water. Begin to heat on a medium heat.
- Meanwhile rinse the bottle gourd, cut it to 2 parts. Taste test to make sure it is not bitter. Peel the skin and cube.
- Add the cubed gourd to the dal and bring it to a rolling boil. Turn the heat to low.
- If using pressure cooker, cover and pressure cook for 2 whistles on a medium heat. When the pressure drops open the lid.
- If cooking in a pot, cook uncovered on a low to medium heat, adding more hot water as required.
- To make sorakkai kootu, lentils and the gourd both must be soft cooked.
Make Kootu Paste
- While the lentils coo, in a small tadka pan, dry roast red chilies and chana dal until deep golden and aromatic. Add cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds.
- Cool these and add to a grinder along with coconut. Pour little water and make a thick paste.
How to Make Sorakkai Kootu
- When the dal and gourd is cooked completely, add the ground paste, tamarind and turmeric.
- Stir well. Add more hot water if required to bring it to the desired consistency. It has to be thick yet of pouring consistency. cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until bubbling and aromatic.
- Meanwhile, heat the tadka pan with ghee or oil. Add mustard and cumin seeds.
- When they begin to crackle, add curry leaves, red chili and hing.
- Switch off the stove and add the tempering to sorakkai kootu. Serve with rice or chapathi.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Sorakkai kootu recipe first published in March 2015. Updated and republished in July 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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