Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spinach and Lauki (Opo squash) Molakootal (Dal Soup With Spinach and Bottle Gourd)

Molakootal brings memories of childhood and school days. Amma made it quite often as it was everyone's favorite regardless of the vegetables in it. This was the other dish besides Aviyal that our Amma did not have to worry about her children getting their 5 servings-a-day of veggies! We gobbled every speck of it in record time.

Mild and delicious with the fragrance of coconut and cumin, it is filling and comforting as well as being nutritious. Amma always made some type of rasam such as Toor Dal Rasam or Lemon/Lime rasam on spinach molakootal days.

Most mild vegetables will combine quite happily in this dish. My suggestions are: sprouts, opo squash, any summer squash such as green immature pumpkin, yellow squash, patty pan, or zucchini, green beans, chayote squash (Bangalore Kathirikai), carrots, potatoes, hairy melon, ridge gourd, tori (tender green luffa gourd), snake gourd (Podalankai), edamame (green soy) beans, unripe green bananas, green unripe papayas, corn and peas. Use an assortment of veggies in any combination or just a single one.

Although traditionally spinach is not combined with any other vegetables when making molakootal, it just seemed a good idea at the time and our family loved it.

Do include the opo squash when you get a chance to find it. It is also known as Bottle Gourd, Cucuzzi, Lauki, Dudhi, and Chorakai; whatever its name, this pale green squash cooks up melt-in-your-mouth succulent and luscious!

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow Mung OR Toor dal (split and skinless)
1/2 medium Lauki (Opo Squash, Bottle gourd)
1 bunch Spinach
1 tsp Salt

Masala for grinding:

1/2 c fresh or frozen thawed grated coconut
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 or 2 dry Red Chili
1/2 tsp uncooked rice

Tadka/Thalippu:

2 tsp Canola Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Urad Dal
1 Dry Red Chili
1 pinch Asafoetida (optional)
1 Sprig Curry Leaves

Method:

Sort the dal for stones, discolored beans, or other foreign matter. Wash thoroughly and add water to cover (about 2 cups). Add turmeric and salt. Bring this to a boil, turn heat down to simmer, and cook until dal is soft and creamy.

Peel and chop the Opo squash into small cubes. Add to dal and cook together stirring occasionally until soft. Alternately cook dal and squash in a pressure cooker following manufacturer's directions.

Clean, wash and chop spinach.

While the dal and veggies are cooking, grind together the coconut with cumin, rice, and chilies using just enough water to make grinding feasible into a fine paste.

Stir ground coconut along with the spinach into the cooked dal and veggies and bring to a boil. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Cover.

Now prepare thalippu in a small pan with a cover. Heat the oil with the mustard seeds, red chili, and urad dal. When the mustard seeds finish popping, turn off the heat and quickly stir in asafoetida if using. Add the curry leaves carefully as they tend to be explosive when they hit the hot oil. Pop in the curry leaves quickly and immediately cover the pan and allow all sputtering to subside.

Stir thalippu into the molakootal. Let rest covered for 10 minutes.

Stir well and serve hot by itself or with rice and/or roti (Indian flat breads) with a complimentary sweet and/or sour dish like Tomato Chutney, Bitter Melon and Okra or Winter Squash Pachadi, and/or spicy pickles or chutneys.

4 comments:

tina said...

periamma, this receipe saved my day. girish had bought papaya thinking it was ripe. well, it turned out to be quite "kuchcha". so i decided to look for a recipe to use it. i found this one where you suggest substituting lauki with raw papaya - and it also made use of malabar spinach, tons of which is growing in our backyard. killed two birds with one stone!

Geetha said...

Tina, I am glad you liked this recipe; it is one of our all-time favorites also. Smart girl to use both green papaya and the Malabar spinach - wow, you are indeed cooking :)! You can substitute green papaya for the cabbage in cabbage thoran - delish!

Anonymous said...

this post is very usefull thx!

Geetha said...

Hello Anon, You are welcome; glad to be of help. Happy Cooking!