At the risk of repeating something that I've said too often here, summer is not a season that I enjoy. Considering that I live in one of the hottest places in India, it is something that I have learned to put up with. Just about the only thing I like about summer is the fruits that are available in plenty in all the markets....the umpteen varieties of mangoes, lytchees, nongu, plums.
Having a fruit shop right next door is definitely a plus.
This koottan is something that is made in most Kerala Iyer homes with ripe mangoes that grow in the backyard. Nattu mambazham (country mangoes) are the ones that are commonly used, but any variety that is sweet, firm and not too fibrous will work just as well.
What you need:
Small, ripe mangoes - 2
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 3
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp for grinding + 1/2 tsp for tampering
Ash gourd or malabar cucumber(vellarikka) - 1/4 cup, skinned and diced
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - a small piece (depending on the sweetness of the mangoes)
Peel the mangoes and cut them into large chunks. Squeeze out all the juice from the seed. Take this in a large vessel. Add the diced ash gourd along with enough water to cover it. Add turmeric powder and salt. Let it simmer on low heat until the gourd is cooked. Grind the coconut, chillies and mustard seeds to a smooth paste. Add this to the simmering mixture. Stir well and let it boil for a few minutes until the raw smell is gone.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Add 1/2 tsp of urad dal, mustard seeds, one red chilli broken into pieces and a few curry leaves. Heat until the mustard seeds pop. Pour this over the koottan.
This tastes best when mixed with rice and served with a spicy stir fry and papadams.