Peerkangai Kootu is a comforting medley of gourd with dals, coconut, and light spices and herbs
The cuisine of South India is vast and beyond the staple dishes that we are aware of. The culinary repertoire of Tamil Nadu, for instance, dates back hundreds of years, and has a variety of delicacies that are yet to enjoy the limelight.
That said, not every dish from the state has a legacy or an interesting history attached to it. Some simply took shape at the restaurants in Chennai and other culinary destinations, like Madurai. If you’ve ever seen food spread from the state, you would know how vast the cuisine is. It is full of dishes that the locals absolutely love, but few would know about them outside the state. One such dish from Tamil Nadu that is worth exploring is Peerkangai Kootu.
In this dish, peerkangai - which is called ridge gourd in English and turai in Hindi - is combined with moong dal and grated coconut, making for a delicious and wholesome stew. Gourd vegetables are quite popular in South Indian cuisines. This is also one of the reasons gourd vegetables are cultivated in huge numbers across the region. If you visit South India, you can find many households growing these gourds in their backyards, and use the same in their curries and stir-fry dishes. Kootu in Tamil means a ‘mixture’ or ‘medley’, and it often refers to a lentil and vegetable stew.
It’s a known fact that ridge gourd comes with a number of health benefits. High in fibre, it helps regulate digestion and heart health. In addition to that, this vegetable is also a very good source of Vitamin A and C, magnesium, iron and B6. And just like most other veggies, this too is a combination of just water and nutrients, which makes it an excellent food for body weight management.
On the other hand, dals - particularly, moong and urad - add a punch of protein to our diet. Protein is often called the building block of life. Not only does it help you build muscle and aid in muscle recovery, but it is also good for your hair, skin, and nails. It is also a very crucial component of a weight loss diet. Just like fibre, protein also does not digest quickly. Since it stays in the system for longer, it gives a feeling of fullness for long, keeping us away from untimely hunger pangs, which most often lead to high-fat foods, and thus reduce chances of weight gain. When pressure-cooked and combined with ridge gourd, coconut and curry leaves, dals make for a rich concoction that hits the taste buds with the right flavours, and also gives us the right mix of nutrients.
Peerkangai Kootu is thus a comforting medley of gourd with dals, coconut, and light spices and herbs. It is an easy recipe to make at home, which does not take more than 30 minutes. Pair it with rice or any bread of your choice, and you have a nourishing, whole meal to savour.
Here’s the recipe for Peerkangai Kootu.
300 gm ridge gourd (peeled and chopped)
Salt, to taste
1 tsp turmeric
200 gms moong dal
1 tbsp urad dal
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup of grated coconut
3 dried red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground pepper
A few sprigs of curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida
. Boil the ridge gourd in water with turmeric and salt.
. Cook the dals separately in a pressure cooker.
. Fry red chillies and urad dal in coconut oil until they turn golden brown.
. Now add the coconut, pepper, cumin seeds and curry leaves to the dal mix and stir fry. Let it cool down.
. Grind it to a coarse paste.
. Bring all the ingredients together and stir fry.
. Add more water, if required.
. Temper the mustard, urad dal, asafoetida, and curry leaves in coconut oil.
. Add it to the mixture.
. Serve hot with rice or roti.