NOTE: This post is several months old....It has been languishing in my drafts for quite a while now.
A few years back, if someone had told me that I'd make plans to meet up with several random people known to me only through the internet, I would have said it is downright crazy. But that is just what I did yesterday. And the funny thing is, it is not even the first time I am doing it. I've met fellow food bloggers twice and mommy bloggers once.
So this time round, as a seasoned "blogger meet"-er, I walked in without even noting down the phone numbers of the people I was meeting. And then, as I got closer to the venue, I thought....how am I supposed to recognize them? There's only one person here that I've met and one whose face I am familiar with through her FB profile. I am the kind of person who can't remember faces that I've seen in real life...so how am I going to remember an FB profile face? If worst came to worst, I could always identify all-female groups and walk up to them as say, Are you food bloggers?
Luckily, I didn't have to resort to that as my face-recognizing skills seem to have become better.....as soon as I walked in, I saw Lata waiting in the lobby. Identifying the rest of the group wasn't too difficult, mostly because Lata knew them or because they were familiar with her FB profile photo. Conversation and food, both were in plenty and thoroughly enjoyed.
The day after the meet found me wanting to make something simple, yet flavourful....and I resorted to an old favourite - moru koottan, which loosely translates to buttermilk side dish.
Moru koottan is a tangy, spicy dish that is made with curd, coconut and green chillies. Usually, ash gourd, colocascia, yam and fried okra are the veggies added to it. In my family, we make a version that uses ripe nenthra pazham - a variety of plantains that Kerala is famous for. This koottan is a lovely blend of three different tastes - tanginess from the sour curd, sweetness from the plantains, and spiciness from the chillies.
Mixed with rice and served with a side of spicy roasted potatoes and papadums, this is foodie heaven.
What you need:
Nenthrapazham (Kerala plantain) - 1, diced
Coconut - 1/2 cup, grated
Green chilli - 3
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sour curd - 1.5 cups (beaten till smooth)
Add some water to the diced plantains. Add salt and turmeric powder. Boil on low heat for a few minutes until the plantains become soft, but not mushy.
Grind the coconut and green chillies to a smooth paste,using some of the sour curd for grinding.
Add this to the simmering mixture and let it boil for a few minutes until the raw smell is gone.
Now add the remaining curd and stir well. When it starts frothing, switch off the heat.
Heat some (coconut) oil. Add mustard seeds, a broken red chilli, some curry leaves and a few methi seeds to it. When the mustard seeds pop, pour this over the koottan.
1)The plantains used should be just ripe....not overripe...the skin should be yellow, with no signs of blackening.
2)The curd should be sour. I usually leave mine on the kitchen counter overnight to make it sour.
3)Use your discretion to decide how much curd is needed. Start with a cup and then, based on whether you want a more watery gravy or not, alter the quantity.
4)After adding curd to the koottan, you should not let it boil. As soon as it starts frothing, you should switch off the stove.