Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweet Potato and Peas in coconut gravy curry (Kootu) and an interesting fact about bananas...

An interesting fact that I came across recently about bananas, is that they are loaded with resistant starch, a healthy carb that fills you up and speeds up your metabolism. Cool huh?  This is definitely one more very good reason to grab a banana when we are hungry I guess.....for more reasons read this post.  To know more about other foods with resistant starch in them read this wiki article.  Also here is another detailed article on how resistant starch is different from regular starches and how it aids in weight loss.

Moving on, kootu usually refers to a curry from south Indian cuisine, that is made with a coconut based gravy. I have tried  a lot of vegetables in this style of curry including asparagus, red swiss chard and cabbage , but I have never tried sweet potatoes in this style of curry. When my mother in law suggested this variation of kootu the other day, I was very keen to try it. Luckily all the items required for this curry are staple pantry items and I tried this the very next day after our conversation.

The verdict.... this sweet potato curry was just loaded with flavor. The combination of sweet, spices and coconut flavor was just irresistible and the curry was so delicious that I could have eaten bowlfuls of this curry on its own if I wanted.... :-)  If sweet potatoes are on your menu this week, give this curry a try and enjoy its pleasantly unique taste:-)


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Ingredients and Method to make Sweet Potato peas in coconut gravy curry
2 large sweet potatoes (Meethe aloo/sakkarai vellikizhangu) peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes (yielded 4 heaped cups of cut pieces)
2 cups frozen peas (matar/pachai pattani) (thawed to room temperature) (see notes)
2 large tomatoes cut fine (tamatar/thakkali) (yielded 2 cups of tomatoes)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

For the masala
2 tsp (preferably coconut oil)
1 tbsp split black gram lentil (udad dhal/ ulatham parappu)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera/jeeragam)
1 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
2 tbsp sesame seeds (brown variety) (til/ ellu)
2 dry red chilies or to taste (lal mirch/ molaga vathal)
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (nariyal/thengai) (can be substituted with frozen grated coconut thawed to room temperature

Optional seasoning
2 tsp oil (preferably coconut)
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai/ kadagu)
1/8 tsp asafoetida powder (hing/perungayam)
1 stalk of curry leaves

In a heavy bottomed pan heat 2 tsp oil and add black gram lentil and stir on low to medium low heat until it gets reddish. Then add cumin and coriander seeds and stir for a few seconds. Add sesame seeds and stir for a few seconds. Then add red chili and saute until it starts to turn color. Remove these items and place on a plate to cool. Add grated coconut to the balance oil and roast until it turns light golden color. Remove and grind to a fine paste along with the other spices in a chutney attachment/ spice grinder adding a little water as required

Add tomatoes, turmeric powder and water (approx 1/2 cup) on heat and allow the tomatoes to cook until soft and mushy. Add sweet potatoes and peas, salt to taste and some more water ( I used approx 1 cup) and allow the vegetables to cook on medium heat. This does not take very long, just a few minutes.

When cooked, add ground paste, water as required to achieve required consistency and allow the curry to simmer for a few minutes until the flavors blend a little.
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If seasoning,  heat 2 tsp oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds, when it begins to splutter add asafoetida powder and  curry leaves torn into little pieces. Curry leaves splutter in the oil and can cause some of the oil to splatter, so be careful when doing this and keep your hands and face away from the oil. When the curry leaves begin to get whitish spots, remove and pour entire seasoning on the curry.

Remove curry from heat and serve hot with rice and rasam or sambar or even to go with phulkas, rotis or any other type of Indian flat bread.

Fresh green peas can be substituted in place of frozen peas. If you do, cook the fresh peas separately until almost cooked and then proceed with the rest of the recipe
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