Chayote Urid Dal

21 Sep

Chayote or vegetable pear cooked in a lentil broth flavoured with a spicy, coconut masala paste. The chayote works extremely well cooked in the dal so there is lots of scope for experimenting with other members of the cucurbit family and using summer squash or gourds and varying the spices or the types of lentils.

  • 1-2 Chayotes (green vegetable pear)
  • 1/2 cup urid dal (black lentils split, skinned, washed)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 large green chilli
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Masala paste

  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 10 dried curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp urid dal
  • 2 dried red chillis
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut or unsweetened desiccated coconut

Fry the masala ingredients in a little oil, set aside to cool and then blitz in a coffee grinder to a rough paste. If the chayote are young cut into bite size pieces but if the chayotes are older peel the skin off, as it can be quite stringy and tough, then cut onto pieces.

Put the dal and water in a pot, with the turmeric and sliced green chilli (use only half a chilli if you don’t want it to be too hot) cover and simmer until the lentils are nearly cooked about 45 mins. I like to leave the lentils with some shape but you can mash them to make a smoother dal. Add the pieces of chayote and a good pinch of salt and continue to simmer covered until the chayote is cooked, this takes about 10 minutes. Stir in the masala paste, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes or so before serving. Drizzle with a little home made chilli oil and serve with rice and a sweet chutney such as Sweet Bengali Tomato Chutney or Fig and Tamarind Chutney or any Indian pickles.

Recipe Sources
In India a dish like this would be called Chow chow kootu. I looked at several recipes for Chow Chow Kootu and ended up making the version above, which is a combination of two or three recipes I found.

see the discussion on this forum
see recipe on Indobase 

Cook’s Tip
Cooking small quantities of lentils like this is a waste of fuel for a single 2 serving dish so I tend to cook up larger batches and freeze in portions, which can be used to make dishes like this quickly. The Masala paste can be made in batches and will store for several months in an airtight jar.

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