Sihi kootu is one mixed vegetable gravy which finds a regular place in our menu. I remember clipping this recipe from a kannada magazine long time ago.
This mysore style kootu is prepared in and around Bengaluru and Mysuru region. It is one of the tasty mixed vegetable curry of Karnataka and is a popular vegetable and dal medley featured in any Karnataka Brahmin's house.You can find this in their wedding feast too.
Kootu requires specific kind of vegetables to get that special taste. Use only those vegetables that are specified in the ingredient list. Sweet tasting vegetables with mild odor are used. There are two versions of this curry- Sihi kootu with red chillies and MeNasina kootu which also has pepper corns and white poppy seeds for extra punch. There is no souring agent added in this. If souring agent like tamarind, tomatoes, yoghurt are added then it called HuLi.
About other mix vegetable gravies-
Like various regional parts of India ,Karnataka too has many mixed vegetable curries.Very few ingredients go into the masala paste and so vegetables should be carefully selected. Bitter tasting or slimy vegetables are not used.
Sihi kootu, Yogiratna, & Tarkari huLi from Mysuru region and Gajbaje & Valval from mangalore region, have less masala these tastes good with both rice, chapatti or puris .These are prepared using sweet tasting gourd, beans and root vegetables. Gajbaje has around 50 such vegetables and making them is one of the most interesting and satisfying project for me.
Vegetable saagu and Vegetable kurma from Bengaluru hotels are spicy and they also include vegetables like radish, kohlrabi, cauliflower.
Vegetable rassa from North Karnataka is delicious with any millet roti or puris.
For the dal-
100g (150 ml) split pigeon pea (tuvar dal, arhar dal)
¼ tsp turmeric pd
½ tsp oil (coconut or peanut or sunflower or ricebran)
For the ground masala paste-
4 red chillies
½ tsp cumin and 1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp split black gram (urad dal)/ split chickpea (chana dal)
1 tsp white poppy seeds/ rice grains
½ cup (100ml) grated coconut
2 cups mixed vegetables choose a few from this list – Beans, Carrot, Ridgegourd, Yam (suran/ elephant foot), potatoes, drumstick/moringa pod, green peas, winter melon/ petha / ash gourd, ivy gourd / tendli, yellow pumpkin, malabar cucumber, chayote squash/ chow-chow.
½ cup chopped dill (leaves and tender stems )
1 tsp Jaggery /sugar/brown sugar
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil or ghee
½ tsp mustard
Fistful or peanuts
½ tsp asafoetida/ hing
Lightly roast pepper corns, urad dal and when urad dal is golden, add broken byadgi red chillies and fry for few secs.
Lastly add poppy seeds/ rice, fry for few secs and switch off the heat.
Put this into a mixer jar along with grated coconut.
Soak tur dal for 1 hr and rinse it well with fresh water. Pressure cook the dal with turmeric and oil.
You can add french beans, carrot, ivy gourd, green peas into this dal.
Cook separately other vegetables (soft and easy to cook) along with salt and jaggery so that they do not become mushy.
Take boiled tuvar dal, cooked veggies, chopped dill and ground masala paste in a big thick bottomed vessel and boil well. You can add curry leaves at this stage or later in the tempering.
Add water to make it into a thick gravy of pouring consistency.
Heat ghee and add mustard seeds and fist ful of peanuts. When they start popping switch off the heat and add asafoetida and curry leaves. Pour this tempering over the kootu.
You can turn this into spicy menasina kootu by using 1 tsp pepper corns and 2 dry red chilli instead of 4 dry red chilli.Use poppy seeds instead of rice grains .Vegetables used in this are ½ cup French beans, 1 cup Hyacinth beans (avare kaalu/ ), 2 cups amaranth leaves and 2 peeled and chopped potatoes.