Beans Carrot Tamarind Stew / Beans Carrot Puli Kootu

Kootu is a type of dish made in South India which traditionally uses ground coconut paste. This differentiates it from Sambhar or Rasam. Puli Kootu is a variation of this preparation where tamarind is used as the stock base and it gives the dish a tangy flavour. I decided not to use coconut and try this as a veggie-filled side dish. Later I realized that this stew pairs well with rice too! The secret to nailing this dish would be in the ground spices which impart the salty-spicy balance to the dish. Try making it as it has minimal oil usage and has the wholesome nutrition of lentils that you will love!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients for cooking:

  • 1 1/2 cup beans, cut into medium length sticks
  • 1 cup carrot, cut into medium length sticks
  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 small ball size of tamarind
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp peanuts
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for grinding:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp chana dal
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp urad dal
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Some coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ghee (optional)

Beans and carrot tamarind stew

Beans and carrot tamarind stew


Method:

  • Soak the tamarind in a small bowl of warm water for 10 mins. Then extract the juice and keep it aside and discard the seeds.
  • Take toor dal in a vessel and rinse it 2-3 times. Then add 1 cup of water to it along with salt and turmeric and pressure cook it for 3 whistles. Mash this dal and set it aside.
  • Now take a pan, add in the chopped beans and carrots along with a bit of salt and water and cook it with a lid on low flame. This will take around 10 mins.
  • While the veggies are getting cooked, heat a small pan for frying the grinding ingredients. Add ghee/oil and add peppercorns to it. Once the peppercorns sputter, take them out into the mixer jar. Now in the same pan, add all the other grinding ingredients and roast them till the dals turn golden brown and then switch off the flame. Transfer these ingredients into the mixer jar and wait for these ingredients to cool down a bit.
  • Add cumin seeds into the mixer jar and grind all the ingredients together. The paste should be nice and smooth.
  • After the veggies have semi-cooked, add the tamarind juice to it so that the veggies absorb the flavour of tamarind.
  • Next, add the ground spice mixture to the stew and mix well.
  • After the veggies are fully cooked, add the mashed toor dal into the mixture along with a cup of water and let it cook in medium flame. Once it comes to a boil, switch off the flame.
  • In a small pan, take mustard seeds and peanuts and roast them together as this will act as seasoning.
  • Add the seasoning into the boiling stew and mix it well. Finally garnish with coriander. The kootu/stew is ready to serve with rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • If you don’t like large pieces of peanut, toast them separately and then break them up in a mortar and pestle / grinder.
  • Don’t overcook the vegetables. Cut them into the same size so that they cook evenly
  • The lentils and the tamarind should balance each other. If you like a more tangy dish, feel free to add a little more tamarind.
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Puy Lentils Stew with Za’atar

There are days when you just yearn for a comforting meal. At these times, I experiment with lentils since they work brilliantly in soups and stews. During a grocery shopping spree, I had picked up green puy lentils with the intention of trying to cook some Middle Eastern dishes. Puy lentils have a smooth texture and do not require to be soaked overnight. They absorb seasoning very well and can be paired with different spices. They are little marvels that provide you with a sustaining and comforting meal. Add some veggies, and you get a great stew / soup that pairs well with shortbread or buns. For seasoning, I chose Za’atar (a spice mixture) as it is uniquely Middle Eastern in usage. This was my first time working with this spice and it elevated the stew to another level. To say that the dish was enjoyed would be an understatement!

Recipe Details :
Serves: 2-3 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp za’atar
  • 1/2 cup puy lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 – 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Puy lentils with za'tar

Puy lentils with za’tar


Method:

  • Rinse the puy lentils in warm water 2-3 times and set it aside.
  • In a pot, take olive oil and sauté the onions, zucchini and carrots with a pinch of salt for around 8 mins.
  • Add the finely chopped garlic and sauté it further for another 2 minutes.
  • Next, add the Za’atar and mix well. Within a minute, you will smell the amazing fragrance from the spice.
  • Now add the rinsed puy lentils and add in the water. Cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for another 10 mins. The lentils should be tender and should not turn mushy.
  • Now add 2 tsp of salt and mix well. Let it simmer for another 10 mins. Switch off the flame.
  • Puy lentils stew with ciabatta bread

    Puy lentils stew with ciabatta bread

  • Serve this delicious stew with ciabatta bread. I grilled the bread with mozzarella cheese.

Tips:

  • Make sure you sauté the vegetables well – but do not let them burn.
  • You may need to check on the stew occasionally to add some water. It will take between 3 – 5 cups to cook the lentils.
  • For those staying in Singapore, I bought the puy lentils from Mustafa. I picked up the Ciabatta bread and fresh Mozzarella cheese from Providore Cafe counter at Mandarin Orchard. They have a really good cheese counter with a lot of variety.

Carrot and Cucumber Stew with Red Lentils

I’m back! I’ve still been busy travelling and cooking (festival food!) and now it feels great to post again. Hope you all are doing well. I see a lot of new readers reading my blog along with the consistent readers – and all I want to say is Thank you! After hogging on numerous Diwali sweets, I decided to balance all that richness with something healthy. I like stews – they are flavorful and loaded with vegetables. You don’t need nothing else to feel like you have had a wholesome meal. I used red lentils to incorporate protein into the dish. The veggies used are carrots and cucumbers. The fact that it hardly requires any oil makes it a winner from the health perspective. You can serve this with rice or rotis or just eat a bowl of this on its own.

Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 45 mins
Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients :

  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red lentils/ red masoor dal
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Curry leaves for garnish (optional)

Method:

  • Wash the red lentils using a colander under cold water 3-4 times and keep aside. This is done to remove the grit present in the lentils.
  • Heat a pot on medium heat and add the 1 tsp oil. Now add the carrots and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Once done, add the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and cook them for another 3 minutes.
  • Once the ginger-garlic paste is nicely mixed with the carrots and onions, add the cumin seeds and saute it for a minute till the aroma of cumin fills the cooking area.
  • Now add the tomato puree, salt, coriander and turmeric powder along with 2 cups of water and mix well.
  • Add the lentils and stir to combine.
  • Bring everything to a boil and then lower the flame and let the whole broth simmer for around 30 minutes.
  • Keep occasionally stirring it in between and add more water if necessary depending upon the consistency. Do not add too much liquid (that’s soup) – it should be a bit thick.
  • Carrot and cucumber stew in process

    Carrot and cucumber stew in process

  • Finally, now add the chopped cucumbers to the lentil stew and mix it in. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Add a little more salt at this stage.
  • Carrot and cucumber stew

    Carrot and cucumber stew

  • Garnish with some curry leaves and serve it hot. All I can say is you will not be able to resist this bowl of goodness 🙂

Tips:

  • Wash the lentils well. If you want a head start on cooking them, just soak them for some time in cold water.
  • You can serve this as soup as well. Once everything is cooked well, just blend with a hand mixer / blender.

Potato and Peach Stew

Sometimes when you open your refrigerator, you see a random assortment of veggies looking back at you – two carrots in the last shelf, one bell pepper hidden in a certain corner and so on and so forth. So what do you do? Toss some veggies that work well together to create an interesting stew! This is precisely what I did and it turned out delicious. Have this dish with toasted bread by the side and make it healthy and hearty meal.

Recipe for Potato and Peach Stew


Serves : 2-3
Ingredients :

  • 2 medium carrots peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup of red lentils [optional]
  • 1 medium sized peach, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green chillies, minced
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper [optional]
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary[optional]
  • Salt to taste

Potato and peach stew

Potato and peach stew


Method:

  • Add oil to a non-stick pan. Once the oil is warm (not hot) add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook on a low flame until soft and transparent
  • Now add the carrots and sauté the mixture over medium heat
  • Add chopped garlic, chillies, tomatoes, potatoes and red lentils (in the order I have mentioned) and mix well. Then add the vegetable broth. Preferably, use a low Sodium broth. Bear in mind that the broth will be salted, so adjust seasoning accordingly. Adjust the thickness to your liking- I added 1 cup of water at this stage.
  • Let the broth come to a boil on medium flame.
  • At this point, lower the heat and cover the pan and let it simmer for around 20 mins. Check the potatoes by passing a fork through them – if it goes in smooth, it means the vegetables are done.
  • At this stage, add the peach and cook for 5 mins
  • Serve the stew hot with toasted bread

Tips :

  • When the vegetables are being cooked, monitor and stir them occasionally.
  • If you are preparing home-made broth, don’t over-salt it. (I shall write a separate post on my home-made broth recipe)
  • Do not overcook the vegetables. The carrots and tomatoes need to be just cooked
  • If you want a sweeter taste in the stew, add one more peach or use a combination of potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • For those staying in Singapore, I used the Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth from NTUC. It has a 22% sodium level. For people buying any other brands, the key is to look for low-sodium vegetable broth so that you can always add salt at a later stage.
  • Avoid buns which inherently have a sweet taste

This exact recipe can be made by using pear instead of peach and it would taste equally great. I loved having this healthy, tasty and filling stew for dinner, hope you all try it and like it too 🙂