A usual question asked is – What is your favorite food? I always have trouble answering that as my favorite food changes depending on the day, the weather, the moods and so does my comfort food. There are days when a simple dish of pasta sauteed in olive oil with some garlic and vegetables hits the spot and sometimes it could be noodles or sushi and sometimes just plain curd rice (yogurt rice).
One of my favorite food, growing up was molagootal with rice. This is a very typical and traditional Palghat dish; popular and well-liked especially by kids as it is not spicy. It is a very versatile and easy dish to prepare. You can use different vegetables like cabbage, beans, potato, cauliflower, drumsticks, white pumpkin etc. You can also make it with spinach or amaranth leaves and it is then called keerai molagootal. This is served with rice and a side dish like a spicy sour pachadi to balance the palate.
1/2 cup tur dal
2 cups diced vegetables (1-3 vegetables of your choice – beans, potato, pumpkin, cabbage, cauliflower, drumstick, Kerala cucumber)
1 tsp turmeric powder
(For Keerai molagootal use 2-3 cups firmly packed greens. Using frozen spinach works very well for this dish.)
1/2 cup fresh coconut grated or chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 tsp black pepper
1 red chilli (optional)
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp urad dal
a few curry leaves
Wash and pressure cook the tur dal in one cup water or cook in a pan till soft. Keep aside.
In a pan cook vegetables in 2 cups water. Add salt and turmeric while cooking.
If using spinach, mash well after cooking.
Grind the coconut, pepper, and cumin to a fine paste.
To the cooked vegetables add the dal and ground coconut mixture and cook for a few minutes. Add water if required. The consistency should be like a curry.
Heat the oil, add the tempering ingredients, when the mustard splutters, add to the molagootal. Serve hot with rice. A dollop of ghee on the rice, though optional, makes it even more delectable.