Pumpkin Gojju with Chow Chow Kootu

published Nov 5, 2021
at the table
Pumpkin Gojju with Chow Chow Kootu

Gojju and kootu is a classic South Indian combination for the fall. It’s the perfect sweet and savory combo.

Serves4 to 6

Prep40 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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Dinner.
Credit: Paul Crispin Quitoriano

Gojju and kootu is a classic combination for the fall. It’s the perfect sweet and savory combo. Gojju, which is a sweet gravy, is from the Indian state of Karnataka, while kootu, a thicker lentil-based gravy, is generally South Indian and known by different names in different states. To eat this dish, you mix the kootu with rice and then dip the kootu into the gojju.

This dish is one of my favorites; my mom would make it for me every time I came home from college. She learned how to make the kootu from her mother and the gojju from her mother-in-law and then she taught me how to make these dishes. Kootu means “mixture of things” and is like a kitchen sink dish, so you can customize the recipe based on what you have on hand.

The keys to this dish are patience — letting the gojju and kootu simmer and making sure they thicken — and seasoning generously. My mom and I always use a stovetop pressure cooker with the little rocking weight on top, but an electric pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot) works, too. These dishes must be served hot and enjoyed by the spoonful with at least four other people! South Indian food is meant to be shared!

Pumpkin Gojju with Chow Chow Kootu

Gojju and kootu is a classic South Indian combination for the fall. It’s the perfect sweet and savory combo.

Prep time 40 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

For the pumpkin gojju:

  • 1

    (about 2-pound) red or sugar pie pumpkin

  • 2 cups

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    tamarind concentrate or paste

  • 3 tablespoons

    vegetable or canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon

    black mustard seeds

  • 1 tablespoon

    methi or fenugreek seeds

  • 1 teaspoon

    hing (asafoetida powder)

  • 2 teaspoons

    white sesame seeds

  • 4

    shelled peanuts

  • 2 tablespoons

    finely ground (dessicated) unsweetened coconut

  • 1/4 cup

    jaggery powder

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    rasam powder

  • 3

    fresh curry leaves (tear in half if large)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon

    rice flour

  • 2 tablespoons

    coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, for garnish

For the chow chow kootu:

  • 1 tablespoon

    split urad dal

  • 1 to 2

    dried Kashmiri chiles

  • 1/2 cup

    freshly grated coconut, or 1/4 cup frozen grated coconut

  • 1 teaspoon

    cumin seeds

  • 3

    medium chow chow (chayote, about 2 pounds total)

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable or canola oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    black mustard seeds

  • 3 cups

    water

  • 1 cup

    moong dal

  • 2 tablespoons

    jaggery powder

  • 1 tablespoon

    ground turmeric

  • 1 tablespoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 dash

    hing (asafoetida powder)

  • 5 to 10

    fresh curry leaves

  • 2 tablespoons

    heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons

    coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

  • Cooked basmati rice, for serving

Instructions

Make the pumpkin gojju:

  1. Peel 1 (about 2-pound) pumpkin, halve, and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes until you have 2 cups.

  2. Stir 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate together in a liquid measuring cup or medium bowl until combined.

  3. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon methi seeds, and 1 teaspoon hing. Cook until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop, about 20 seconds. Add the pumpkin and tamarind water. Cover and simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until the pumpkin is tender, about 13 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, place 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds and 4 raw shelled peanuts in a small frying pan and toast over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, add 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut, and grind into a paste. (Alternatively, process in a mini food processor.)

  5. Uncover the pumpkin and add 1/4 cup jaggery powder, 1 to 2 tablespoons rasam powder (depending on the spice level you prefer), 3 curry leaves, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over high heat.

  6. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the liquid in the saucepan to a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon rice flour, and stir until smooth. Pour the mixture into the saucepan, add the sesame and peanut paste, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the pumpkin gojju thickens (similar to the consistency of gravy), about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Garnish with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

Make the chow chow kootu:

  1. Place 1 tablespoon urad dal and 1 to 2 dried Kashmiri chiles (depending on the spice level you prefer) in a small frying pan and toast over medium heat until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer to a mortar and pestle. Add 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (or 1/4 cup frozen grated) and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, and grind into a paste. (Alternatively, process in a mini food processor.)

  2. Peel and chop 3 medium chow chow into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups).

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on the Sauté function in an electric pressure cooker. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn off the cooker.

  4. Add the chow chow, spice paste, 3 cups water, 1 cup moong dal, 2 tablespoons jaggery powder, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 dash hing, and 5 to 10 fresh curry leaves (depending on your taste preference). Stir to combine.

  5. Lock the lid on and make sure the pressure valve is set to seal. Set to cook under HIGH pressure for 6 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure.

  6. When the cook time is up, quick release the pressure. Open the pressure cooker. Add 2 tablespoons heavy cream and stir to combine. Taste and season with kosher salt as needed. Garnish with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

  7. Serve the pumpkin gojju with the chow chow kootu and basmati rice.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The moong dal can be cooked ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Before rewarming, break the dal up by mashing with your hand or a spoon.

Storage: The pumpkin gojju and chow chow kootu can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 1 week.