Vellai Poosanikai or Pooshanikai has lot of English names – Winter Melon, Ash gourd or the simple English translation as White pumpkin. This veggie is unique as it can be used for preparing sambhar, kootu, dry curry or kai and even for the dessert. I love this veggie in sambhar but my personal preference is kootu.
All the kootu recipes are pretty much the same. The fresh masala is prepared by grinding coconut with cumin and red chillies. But you can use green chillies or pepper corns also add a small piece of ginger and these are some of the variations. The main difference from other kootu recipes is that I use kadalai paruppu or channa dhal for kottu instead of moong dhal. You can combine both too.
- Winter Melong – 3 cups (I use one medium sized wedge as we call it as Keethu in tamil)
- Channa Dhal – ¼ cup
- Salt – as per taste
- Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
- Curry leaves – 1 strand
- Chopped Cilantro – 2 tbsps.
- Oil – 2 tsps.
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Jeera / Cumin Seeds – 2 tsps. + 1 tbsp.
- Hing – ½ tsp
- Grated Coconut – ½ cup
- Dried Red Chillies – 3
- Grind coconut, jeera and dried red chillies into a smooth paste by adding water.
- Peel the skin of the ash gourd and chop into cubes.
- If you are using pressure cooker, pressure cook the channa dhal and ash gourd for only two whistles. If not in a kadai add the channa dhal and ash gourd with two cups of water, cover it and cook it for up to 15 minutes until the dhal is aldente and the veggie is tender.
- Drain the water and save 1/4 cup of water and rest you can use as vegetable broth for any soup.
- Head the kadai and add oil.
- Once the oil is heated add mustard seeds, jeera and hing.
- Once they start to splutter, add the curry leaves and sauté for a minute and then add the cooked veggie and the dhal.
- Add salt and turmeric powder and mix well.
- Add the grinded mixture.
- If you want thin consistency add more water, if not let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the chopped cilantro in the end and serve with sambhar rice or rasam rice.