Recipes: Mixed Pumpkin Poritcha Kozambu

Tamil Brahmin cooking is generally considered to be quite healthy and satvik. In our everyday cooking, onions and garlic are generally not used and there are people even today who can’t stand the smell of garlic being cooked. My grandmother is one of them. When we make anything with garlic, she generally leaves the kitchen and in fact goes to the room furthest away from the kitchen so the smell does not bother her.

A Poritcha Kozambu is something like a stew which is made by cooking a mixture of vegetables with a paste made of coconut, urad dal and peppercorns and some cooked dal. I had some yellow and orange pumpkin left over when I made some Avial and these were too little to make something with just one of them. So I decided to combine the two to make a fusion kozambu and kootu out of the two vegetables. Generally pumpkins are not used for a poritcha kozambu but this recipe was a huge success. I loved it as did S and the children and this recipe will find its way to my cooking repertoire and I will make it often.

Mixed Pumpkin Poritcha Kozambu

½ yellow pumpkin, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
½ white pumpkin, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup toor dal,
½ tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp coconut
1 tsp broken urad dal
3-4 dried red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Wash the toor dal and soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Then pressure cook the dal with ¼ tsp turmeric powder until it is soft and mushy. Once the pressure reduces and you are able to open the cooker, mash the dal well and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and when it warms up, add the cumin seeds, dried red chillies, urad dal, and pepper corns and fry till the urad dal changes colour to a nice brown. Then add the grated coconut and stir constantly until the coconut is brown and completely devoid of water. Keep aside and let it cool.
When the coconut is cool, grind it completely to a smooth paste using water as needed.
In the same pan, add the chopped pumpkins, ¼ tsp turmeric powder and some salt and cook until the pumpkins are about 70% cooked.
When the pumpkins are cooked, but still have a bite to them, add the mashed dal and the coconut paste and stir well.
Add the tamarind paste and check for seasoning. Let it boil for about 5-7 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot over steamed rice and a stir fried vegetable of your choice.

Recipe: White Pumpkin Rasavangi

The word Rasavangi is very evocative and exotic, isn’t it? In Marathi (or rather the Bambaiya Hindi which is spoken in Mumbai), Vangi means Brinjal or Aubergine. And Rasa in most Indian languages brings to mind a gravy. So I always thought Rasavangi is brinjal cooked in gravy. It was only recently I learnt that it is, in fact, a South Indian term and most probably used by the Brahmins. All this time, I used to call this dish a Pumpkin Sambhar. Anyway, here’s the Rasavangi I made recently.

White Pumpkin Rasavangi


  • 1 large white pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small pieces after discarding the seeds and fibre
  • 1 lemons sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then squeezed so the fibres are removed and the tamarind water separated
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 2-3 tbsp chana dal

To be ground into a paste:

  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 2 tbsp oil

To Temper:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal
  • 5-6 curry leaves


  • Cook the toor and chana dal until they lose their shape. Whisk them well till it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Keep aside
  • In a pan, take 2 tbsp oil and when the oil warms, add the dried red chillies, coriander seeds and chana dal and stir until they start becoming red. Then add the coconut and keep stirring till the coconut becomes reddish brown and loses all moisture and becomes completely dry. Keep aside to cool.
  • When cool, blend to a fine powder. If your blender can’t do this, you can also add water and blend it to a fine paste.
  • In the same pan, put the chopped pumpkin and turmeric powder with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and ensure it does not burn. You can also add a bit of salt here so the pumpkin is not bland.
  • Cook the pumpkin till it becomes tender. At this point add the tamarind water and boil until the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • Now add the cooked dals and the ground paste and check for seasoning. When the Rasavangi starts to boil again, remove from the flame.
  • Take a smaller skillet and pour in the remaining 1 tbsp oil. When the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the urad dal and let it brown slightly. Add the curry leaves and switch off the flame. Pour this seasoning over the Rasavangi.
  • Serve hot as a gravy with rice or even as an accompaniment to a traditional South Indian meal. If serving as an accompaniment, make it thicker than usual. This can also be eaten with Indian flatbreads.


Recipe: Pooshnikai Kootu aka Ash Gourd Stew


Another typical tambram food, which I made for the first time for the sumangali pooja. This was really good with a medley of tastes. A keeper which I plan to make often.

Pooshnikai Kootu aka Ash Gourd Stew



  • 1 medium sized pooshnikai or as gourd, chopped into small pieces with the seeds and fibres removed
  • 3/4 cup toor dal or red gram dal, cooked with a pinch of turmeric till mushy
  • 1/3 cup chana dal or bengal gram dal, cooked with a pinch of turmeric
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds
  • 1.5 tsps bengal gram dal
  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • 4-5 tbsps grated coconut
  • a lime sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and the pulp squeezed and the juice removed and kept aside. Alternatively use 2-3 tsps of tamarind paste
  • 2 tsps oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal or black gram dal
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste


  • In a large pan, take the chopped ash gourd and cook it with just enough water to cover the vegetable. Add some salt and turmeric powder.
  • When the ash gourd is half cooked, add the juice of the tamarind and let it cook till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • In the meantime, in another pan, with 1 tsp oil, fry the bengal gram dal,  coriander seeds, dried red chillies and the coconut until the coconut looses all it’s moisture and becomes dry. Blend this coconut mixture into a smooth paste. Add a bit of water if needed to do this.
  • When the ash gourd is cooked, add the cooked toor dal to the ash gourd and let it mix well. Bring it to a boil and then add the blended coconut paste and let it boil for around 5 minutes
  • In a seperate pan, heat the balance oil and when warm, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida, curry leaves and red chillies and stir for a few seconds till the urad dal is brown the curry leaves are crisp.
  • Season the kootu with this and remove from the gas. Serve hot with a rice of your choice or any flatbread.


Recipe: Pudalangai Kootu aka Snake Gourd Stew


This is a typical tambram recipe which is made in perhaps every household at some point or the other. But surprisingly I had never made it before and so when I had to make it for the Sumangali pooja, I had to rely on my tambram cooking bible – Cook and See by Meenakshi Ammal. I am reproducing the recipe as it is published. Even though I was cooking it for the first time, it was yummy and I realised, I actually liked it a lot.

This recipe is pretty standard for a kootu, in that it has the vegetable, some dal and a coconut spice blend. What was different was that instead of chillies, the coconut was blended with black peppercorn, which made the difference in taste.


Pudalangai Kootu or Snakegourd Stew


  • 2 snake gourds
  • 1 cup moong dal, washed and cooked with a pinch of turmeric powder till it is mushy
  • 4-5 tbsps grated coconut
  • 1.5 tsps peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp split urad dal
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • salt to taste


  • To chop the snake gourd, slit it lengthwise first and remove all the seeds and fibre from inside. Then cut it in half lengthwise and then into thin slices horizontally.
  • In a pan cook the snake gourd with minimum water, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and some salt.
  • While the snake gourd is cooking, in a blender, blend the coconut, peppercorns and cumin seeds to a fine paste and keep aside.
  • When the snake gourd is cooked, but still keeping its shape, add the cooked dal to it and mix gently. Now add the coconut paste and add a bit of water if needed. Kootus are generally thick, but you can adjust the thickness of the dish as you like.
  • Check for salt and when it comes to a rolling boil, let it boil for five minutes and switch off the gas.
  • In a smaller pan, heat the oil and when it becomes warm, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the urad dal, asafoetida, curry leaves and dried red chillies and let the dal brown and the curry leaves become crisp. Pour this seasoning into the kootu and serve hot as an accompaniment to rice.



Recipe: Raw Banana Stew aka Vazhakkai Kootu


This is one of my favourite kootus, the tanginess combined with the slight sweetness that jaggery imparts along with the crispy coconut flavouring is just yum! I love to eat it as it is, no rice or anything else needed to dress it up for me!

It’s quite versatile also, if you make it a bit runny (like a sambar), it can be eaten with rice. Add some papads or chips to go with it and becomes a delicious meal. When made thicker, it becomes the perfect addition to your meal. Eat with with a rasam or a mor kozambu and lick your fingers!

Vazhakkai Kootu


3-4 raw bananas (vazhakai)
3-4 tbsp Toor Dal
1 small lime sized tamarind
2-3 tsps Sambar powder
1.5 tsps oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp broken urad dal
2-3 tbsps coconut
3-4 dried red chillies
1 pinch asafoetida
2 tsps jaggery
Salt to taste


  • Wash the toor dal and soak it in a some hot water for 10-15 mins. After that pressure cook it and keep aside. Once you can open the cooker, mash the dal well so that it is even.
  • Soak the tamarind in hot to warm water for a while (depending on the size, it should take 20-30 mins). Once it’s soft and cool, mash it with your fingers and extract the juice. You can run it through a seive to make sure you don’t have any fruit in the juice extracted. Alternatively, just buy tamarind paste which is easily available in most Indian stores.
  • In a pan, add the oil and once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to crackle, add the chana dal and fry till it starts to change colour. Do not let it get black, as it will then become bitter. Then add the dried red chillies and a pinch of asafoetida and lastly the grated coconut. Keep frying the cocounut until it starts to lose moisture and becomes brown. When the coconut is brown and crisp, remove from the flame and keep aside. We will use this in the end.
  • Peel and chop the raw bananas into small pieces. The pieces should be slightly larger than bite-size. Peel and chop one by one as otherwise the bananas will blacken. While peeling, you can keep a container with water next to you and drop the bananas into it while cutting the next one. This slows the blackening process.
  • When you have chopped all the bananas, cook them in a pan with just enough water to cover them. When the bananas are half cooked, add the tamarind juice to the pan along with sambar powder and salt to taste.
  • Let the tamarind water in the pan come to a rolling boil and let it boil for 5-10 minutes untill the banana is fully cooked. Bananas usually cook very fast so make sure you do not over cook them.
  • Once the bananas are cooked, add in the mashed dal and check for salt. If you want, you can also add the jaggery at the point.
  • When the dal has mixed well with the mixture add the coconut, give it a good stir and switch off the flame.
  • Garnish with a bit of coriander leaves and your delicious vazakkai kootu aka raw banana stew is ready!
  • Serve with rice or rotis for a delicious meal…