Chow chow or chayote kootu is a South Indian lentil and vegetable stovetop stew that has subtle sweetness from the squash and creaminess from the dal. It is the perfect cozy curry to ladle over a bed of fluffy basmati rice.
What is kootu?
Kootu (koo-tuh) is a a South Indian dish that is a vegetable and lentil stew or curry. Compared to a typical dal, there is a high proportion of vegetables in a kootu. The types of vegetables can vary from chow chow (chayote), which is what is used in this recipe, to a medley of other vegetables that your heart desires. The dal used in kootu can vary among moong, masoor, and toor. I typically like to use moong or masoor dal because of its fast cook time. To learn more about dal varieties and how to source them check out this blog post on the different Indian dal varieties.
What is chayote (chow chow)?
Chow chow, which is the Tamil word for chayote, is a small squash with a thin green outer layer. Chayote has a subtle sweet taste and becomes a soft consistency when cooked. The texture of chayote is similar to a summer squash like zucchini when cooked but with a sweeter profile. It is usually easy to find chayote in your local grocery store but if you can't find it there it is most definitely at your local Indian, Asian, or Mexican grocery store.
How to cut and eat chayote
Although you can eat chayote with its green skin on, typically the tough skin is peeled off with a peeler. From there, it is as simple as cutting the chayote vertically in half and removing the seeds from the base of the chayote. In Indian stews like kootu, the chayote is cubed and either steamed, boiled, or sautéed with spices to allow it to soften and melt into the stew.
Related Recipes To Try
If you are looking for other recipes to try that are similar to this kootu recipe, check out the spinach dal recipe which will get your daily dose of vegetables in and is layered with a delicious tadka loaded with warm spices. The other recommendation is to try out the pumpkin sambar which utilizes the simple dal recipe and layers it with even more spices and sweet butternut squash for a delicious curry that will leave you craving more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Masoor dal is a great substitute for moong dal. It is thin like the moong dal which makes it a great candidate for stove top cooking with no soaking needed. Read this post about other dal varieties and substitutes.
You don't have to soak moong dal since it is a thin type of dal. However, I recommend soaking the dal while you are completing other tasks in this recipe to help lower the cook time of the dal on the stove.
Yes, you can absolutely make your kootu in an instant pot. You can simply sauté your ingredients in the instant pot, add the dal and remaining veggies, and cook the dal on high pressure setting for ~15 minutes.
Yes. It's highly recommended that you wash dal before cooking. Washing the dal removes the excess starch and residues that are introduced during the factory processing stage and ensures that the dal has a clean taste and consistency.
You can easily buy split moong dal (without the skin) online (link is attached in the recipe) or at your local Indian grocery store. To learn more about the different dal varieties check out this blog post on Indian dal varieties.