Elavan Mor Kootan (Ash Gourd In A Yogurt Based Curry)

I love yogurt based dishes in any form. Of course, I have been having the Palakkad mor kootan (curry in a yogurt base) since childhood. But it is only after moving to Delhi about 38 years ago that I discovered that almost all states in India have some form of a dish with a yogurt base. I became very fond of the Punjabi kadhi and would make it regularly. When I turned vegan and WFPB about a decade ago, I was delighted that this dish could still be make using vegan yogurt – with no difference in taste whatsoever. As also so with the Palakkad mor kootans. Some years ago, I decided to research the different kinds of yogurt based ‘dals’ in the country – and was delighted with the variety available – except in most states of East India. I ran a series of these recipes on Facebook. Today, my post is on the very Palakkad/Kerala/Thamizhnadu dish using ash gourd in a yogurt base. You can also use pumpkin, raw banana, carrots, yam, Chinese potatoes. chayote squash or colocassia to prepare this dish.

Elavan Mor Kootan

1 cup of ash gourd cut into large cubes
1 1/2 cups thick sour yogurt
1 cup grated coconut
2-3 green chilis
A pinch of turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 dried red chili, broken into two pieces
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dhana, venthiyam)
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste
Add the ash gourd and 1 1/2 cups of water to a heavy bottomed vessel
Add turmeric powder and salt
Mix well and bring to a boil on a stovetop
Continue cooking till the ash gourd is cooked and tender
Meanwhile, grind the coconut and green chilis into a thick paste, using a little yogurt
Add the ground paste to the ash gourd
Mix well
Whisk the sour yogurt well so that no lumps are formed
Add this to the ash gourd
Check for consistency (add a little water if it is too thick; add a little more thick yogurt if it is too watery)
Check salt
Simmer till the yogurt begins to froth (do not boil)
Set aside
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the fenugreek seeds and red chili
Roast for a few seconds and remove from flame
Add this to the cooked ash gourd mixture
Garnish with curry leaves
Serve hot with steamed red/brown rice or dos/idli/adai…

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