Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chena Moru Kootan / Yam in a curd and coconut curry from Kerala

I am continuing to dip into my mother's recipe trove, meaning I am still at my parents' place and enjoying mom's cooking. My pace of posting recipes is just not keeping pace with mom's cooking so, though late I am happy to post a traditional Keralite curry today. I bring a yogurt and ground coconut base curry called the moru kootan, literally translated to curds curry. This moru kootan is made with vegetables like ash gourd / white pumpkin or raw Kerala plantain or just ripe Kerala plantain or yam / elephants foot. Each of these vegetables adds a different flavor to this curry and most times each of us have favorites. I love moru kootan or like we call at home moru ozhicha kootan with just ripe Kerala plantain - this curry is sweet and sour at the same time. And my most disliked combination is when ash gourd is used in this curry because the water content of the gourd makes the curry watery and seems to dilute tastes.
I do not make this curry at home because my husband stays miles away from it because of his yogurt / curd allergy. And demand mom to make it with the plantain when here.
I would of course suggest try making this curry with the just ripe Kerala plantain. This plantain is normally available in any of the Tamil / Mallu shops that is found in most cities in India. If you are in the US, then try checking for this in either a Mexican or a West Indian store, surprising both these regions use this plantain extensively. And try selecting just ripe plantain for this curry never fully ripened ones.

Yam / Elephants foot / Chena - 250 gms
Coconut, grated - 1/2 a coconut
Cumin seeds / Jeera - 1 tsp
Green chilli - 1, slit add whole
Curds, plain unflavored - 2 cup, thick beaten
Turmeric pwd - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek / Methi seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilli - 2 to 3
Curry leaves
Sugar - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt to taste
When handling chena / yam, oil your hands and then clean it and cut into1 inch square pieces. Else use a pair of gloves to avoid the itchiness some yams have. Slit the green chillies. Beat the yogurt  curds and keep aside.
Add the grated coconut and jeera into a blender jar and grind to a very fine paste.

Into a saucepan or pot add the chenna / elephants foot pieces, little salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, slit green chilli. Add water just enough to cover the contents in the pot and cover and cook till the yam is cooked. Not over done and soft but just cooked. Add the ground coconut paste to cooked chenna and mix carefully. Add water if required to get a thick consistency, the curry should be thick but pourable. Give it just one boil and then lower the heat to low. Add the beaten curds and sugar and mix.  Check the taste for salt and add some if necessary. Continue to cook but take the pan off the heat when the bubbles start forming. Do not let it boil.
Heat a pan for the tempering and add the oil and when it is hot add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter add the dry red chilli pieces and when it darkens add the curry leaves and immediately take the pan off the heat. Add the tempering / tadka to the curry and keep closed with a lid till ready to serve.
Moru kootan is best enjoyed with rice and spicy fried fish / mezhukuperatty.
My mother's recipe for Chena Moru Kootan goes to
Walk through Memory Lane originally by Gayatri's Cookspot


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