Kootanchoru: A One-Pot Dish That Symbolises Communal Harmony

The traditional Dravidian dish known as kootanchoru is a dish that is prepared during the summer months and features a variety of crops that are in season. The Tirunelveli region in Tamil Nadu is primarily credited with this meal; yet, throughout the course of time, it has become a dish that is frequently prepared in families all over the state. Pongal, also known as the harvest festival, was traditionally the time when kootanchoru was prepared. Koodradh is a Tamil word that meaning "people getting together to celebrate," and choru is a Tamil word that means "rice."   

Rakesh Raghunathan, a food historian, mentions in one of his Instagram posts that this one-pot meal consists of quite a few ingredients, and that each individual would bring in one of those components, often the one that they had an abundance of. In this way, you would have a few people bringing in the rice, a few others bringing in the various veggies, some people bringing in the spices, some people bringing in the patram (vessels), and some people bringing in the wood fire. On banana leaves, this would be assembled, and the meal would be prepared and distributed among all who were present. This is a communal getting that take place regardless of the fact that individuals may have different religious views, castes, creeds, or socioeconomic positions. 

The Evolution of the Kootanchoru 

Toor Dal or Pigeon Pea is the type of lentil that serves as the foundation for the Kootanchoru. There are various areas that make use of green gram, often known as moong dal. In the past, the rice that was utilised was always an indigenous variety, and its selection was contingent upon the specific crop that was available during that particular season. The production of kootanchoru also includes the usage of hybrid types of rice, such as Ponni parboiled rice, in modern times. 

Fruits and vegetables typically found in rural areas were red and white pumpkins, cluster beans, raw bananas, drumsticks, and drumstick leaves. Most of the time, the veggies that were gathered were the ones that were grown in the area. The Kootanchoru now also includes a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, brinjals, carrots, and cauliflower. The only change is that it now incorporates the most popular veggies in mainstream cooking.   

Ingredients such as fresh or dried grated coconut are essential for the masala. Some of the spices that could be utilised are pepper, coriander seeds, red or green chilies, garlic, onion (red or pearl), cumin, and tamarind, however, the amounts might vary. 

The traditional recipe calls for rice, lentils, veggies, and ground masala, although the exact proportions and methods of preparation might vary from one family to another. The first step is to sauté the masala. Then, add the lentils and simmer until they are half done. Finally, add the veggies and rice and continue cooking until they are done. Some recipes call for cooking the lentils and rice separately until they are halfway cooked, then adding the masala and veggies and cooking them until they are half cooked. Finally, adding everything together lets everything simmer and blend.   

Finally, the meal is seasoned with mustard seeds, curry leaves, divided black gram (Urad Dal), and asafetida (Hing) sputtering in sesame oil (Gingelly oil).   

It is commonly accompanied by tomato and onion in a yoghurt dish called pachadi, and it is also a speciality of Tamil Nadu known as onion vadagam. Along with the nutritious Kootanchoru, this dish is accompanied by papads, pickles, and a big dollop of ghee. 

A Healthy One Pot Meal 

You can prepare a Kootanchoru using whatever you have leftover in your fridge, which is one of its amazing features. Because the meal is so adaptable, you can change the taste by using whichever seasonal vegetable you have on hand. 

Experts say to cook the lentils and rice until the lentils are fully cooked and the rice is fluffy in the middle. Putting them in the oven at the same time can squash them. Cooking vegetables in a way that keeps their colour and bite is in fact rather similar. Those who aren't familiar with pressure cookers may find that cooking on the stove top allows for more refined control.   

Regardless of societal distinctions, Kootanchoru has always been about uniting communities. A shared dinner is a great way to bring people from different cultures together, especially ones that don't regularly get the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas. 

Kootanchoru Recipe: 


Rice - ½ Cup 

Toor Dal - ¼ Cup 

Drumsticks - 1 nos 

Moringa Leaves (murunga keerai) - 1 Cup 

Potato - 1 no 

Lab Lab Long (avaraikkai) - 10 nos 

Brinjal - 2 nos 

Plantain - 1 no 

Coconut - ¼ head 

Garlic - 3 cloves 

Shallots - 10 nos 

Dry Red Chilli - 2 nos 

Green Chilli - 2 nos 

Onion - 1 medium sized 

Tomato - 2 nos 

Urad Dal - 1 tbsp 

Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp 

Cumin Seeds - ¼ tsp 

Fennel Seeds - ¼ tsp 

Fenugreek Seeds - ¼ tsp 

Turmeric Powder - ¼ tsp 

Water - 2 ½ Cups + ¾ Cup + ¼ Cup 

Curry Leaves - 1 sprig 

Red Chilli Powder - ½ tsp 

Peanut Oil - 1 tbsp 

Coconut Oil - 1 tbsp 


Salt - 2 ½ tsp 

Coriander Leaves 


Rinse the dal and rice together in a colander until the water is clear. Cook it for three whistles over medium heat in a pressure cooker with 2.5 cups of water. Remove from heat and put aside. 

Make a smooth paste by blending the coconut, garlic, shallots, fennel, and red chilies in a mixing jar. Start by heating some peanut and coconut oils in a kadhai. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the cumin and fenugreek seeds, along with the urad dal. Sauté the urad dal till it acquires a golden colour. Sauté the onion and green chilies until the onion becomes translucent. Next, sauté the moringa leaves until they wilt. Saute the drumsticks for 2 minutes, then add the potatoes and plantain. Saute for another 2 minutes, and finally, sauté the brinjal. While the veggies are cooking, add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric, and chilli powder. Simmer until the tomatoes are soft. Once the raw smell of the veggies has gone, add the ground paste and continue cooking for another two minutes. Cook the dal and rice for a few more minutes, then add the cooked rice and mash the rice. Cook the veggies for a little more. Adjust to taste before serving.