Lessons I’m Learning from my Mother….Sihi Kootu & More

“My mother is my best friend”….the old chestnut holds true with me as well…
Admittedly, I can go on for ages about how her children received immense priority ultimately leading up to her sacrificing her best career years in order to render us all a warm home. With a husband whose job entails touring the country half the month & three children, two of whom are really hooligans disguised as chubby little boys, the cacophony & chaos can prove challenging and not just in terms of time. I can write about how her face beams with a blend of pride and satisfaction when people notice me as her mirror image and how the same face cringes when some mistakenly mention otherwise! I can write about how she thoughtfully scribes the sweetest( and longest!) messages that prompt me to effortlessly tear up 10,000 miles away and how she indefatigably listens to me blather for hours about the most inane topics. I can write about how she instilled the love of God in our hearts at a tender age thereby guiding us to live a life saturated with faith. I can also write about how she perpetually corrects our lapses and how she relentlessly eludes us from the poisons of revenge.
However,  I won’t.
Today I want to share with you the lessons I am LEARNING from her….
To say she is the epitome of patience is practically an understatement and this can be vouched for by any soul that’s crossed paths with her. The worst of agitations don’t trigger her to bring the roof down. She is the icy water that douses fiery hot heads! As a teen, I learnt the rewards patience can bestow upon one….the learning continues…

Her calm demeanor culminates as her biggest strength. Recalling the pandemonium that joint families can be subjected to, it dawns on me that her serene silence and smile nonchalantly answered most circumstances. My learning continues….

Trying times bizarrely are directly proportional with her degrees of optimism. Needless to say, much needed. Hope is never a dearth at home and that’s saying something.
When life hands lemons, she musters up courage and emerges a winner. She protectively continues to stand up for us in our toughest times and is indubitably my pillar of strength. I continue to learn and if only I can soak in one drop in that ocean of optimism…..

Among the many feathers in a mother’s cap, she also transpires as a long distance constant cooking coach, guiding me gently and indulgently through the complications of it all, awaiting reviews from a hungry son in law. Although I picked up the the basics of Madhwa Cuisine under my mother in law’s unremitting tutelage, there are some recipes that I continue to learn from my mother….Sihi Kootu is one such. How can I possibly forget devouring bowl after bowl of Sihi Kootu with warm rice as I rushed back home from school? Or when I visited the same home with a husband by my side,  15 years later?

We now arrive at the kitchen of my mother’s home, wafting with  aromas of a simmering Sihi Kootu!

IMG_9523

IMG_9535
The recipe has flawlessly been passed down the many generations: what my mom learnt from my great grandmother, I learn from my mom. While my great grandmother laboriously and painstakingly ground the spices and coconut in a mammoth stone mortar & pestle, we get away with a turn of a knob! “It doesn’t taste the same”, my mom says.
IMG_9542
Sihi means sweet in Kannada & Kootu basically belongs to the sambar/stew family which means it is rich in dal, coconut & vegetables. I feel the need to clarify that it’s not necessarily sweet but mainly called so to ensure that it’s not confused with another Kootu, the ‘Kharaddu’ meaning Spicy.
The addition of pepper & dry chillies impart a subtle heat to the dish. Byadgi (mildly spicy but adds colour) & Guntoor (very spicy but doesn’t add much colour) are the two types of dry chillies used and together they create a balanced combination. There’s jaggery, which is a mandatory in Madhwa cuisine that lends a sweet note to the dish that when mixed with ghee(clarified butter) and rice can easily become a feast for the Gods! Dal i.e. Toor Dal is added in a slightly generous quantity than regular sambars to give a thicker, creamier consistency. With a whole lot of Dal(lentils), Veggies, & a medley of spices, this authentic South Indian Vegan dish is a bowl of warmth & comfort.

The learning continues….

I hope you try this recipe and I would love me a feedback:) Also, I’m trying my hand at food photography and styling these days….I do hope you like these pictures!

RECIPE FOR SIHI KOOTU

INGREDIENTS
3/4th cup Toor Dal
Roughly 3 cups of chopped vegetables like Beans, Carrots, Chayote, Potatoes & legumes like pigeon peas & Padpi lilva
1.5 tbsp jaggery
10 curry leaves
Salt to taste
For the masala paste –
1.5 tbsp urad dal
3 Guntoor dry red chilles(very spicy)
5 Byadgi Dry Red chillies( a little less spicy)
3/4 tsp peppercorns
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
For tempering –
1 tsp of oil
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
A good pinch of Hing/AsafoetidaMETHOD
1. Pressure cook toor dal with 2.5-3 times the water
2. Cook the veggies in boiling water & a little bit of salt. Alternatively, it can be pressure cooked along with the dal itself but there is a chance they may become a little mushy.
3. In the meanwhile, make the masala paste.In a kadai, take a teaspoon of oil and fry Urad dal, chillies, peppercorn in medium heat until the dal is golden brown in colour. Allow them to cool.
4. Once it’s cooled, grind it with fresh grated coconut and some water to get a paste of medium coarse consistency.
5. Add this to the cooked dal & veggies along with jaggery,curry leaves & salt. Let it come to a boil.
6. To temper, in a smaller kadai/tadka pan, add oil and once it heats up,  add urad dal & mustard seeds. Let the mustard crackle and then add Hing.
7. Add this to the Kootu. Serve hot with rice & ghee

71 thoughts on “Lessons I’m Learning from my Mother….Sihi Kootu & More

  1. Hugs to your mom first, a synonym for everything nice and warm, an epitome of patience, cheerfulness, serenity and …and then three cheers to the pics with that wonderfully looking “chow chow” veggie stealing the limelight and the awesome kootu curry (as we the smarthas) call it:). This dish really goes well both with rice and even with rotis.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post makes me all nostalgic….Divya, your photographs looks so real. I wish you could parcel some of your cooking here! But, I really miss my mum’s food. Mum and I share a very similar relationship. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words Cheryl! Glad you liked the post & thanks for reading!
      I so wish I could send you some…maybe some day you’ll make that 20 hour flight:)
      I miss my mom’s cooking too…it’s never the same isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never is! And I don’t cook half as well. Probably because I’ve never been so interested in cooking. 😦 I think it will be more than 20 hours from here? Unless, we fly from the other side. Hehe!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Arv
      It’s primarily made at home & probably some temples and that’s why you may not have heard of it:) Unlike the Masala Dosa which is I think the most popular food from the South:)
      Thank you so much for stopping by😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I doubt I’ll ever make this, since I am positive several of the ingredients would not be available in my small town, but I loved reading about it and about your special relationship with your mom! And your food photos are really great!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not much of a cook but I love to eat! Looking at your photos – hmm, I’m longing for Indian food now! Thankfully lunch will be an hour’s time 🙂 I love the photos – very artistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gotta try this, will let you know once done! The pics are pretty….. esp. loved those ‘kolam’ drawings on the sides 🙂
    Loved your love and admiration for mom! After reading about her, just scrolled down to see if she’s there in pic…!

    Like

  6. Truly heartwarming story you have such a sweet heart I just love it! As for your food photos they are excellent!! The liddle white details around the copper pot make me smile! it’s all just perfect! Im so glad to have you here Divya! XO!

    Like

  7. Heyy,
    Your Blog seems really beautiful. I have gone through some of the articles. I found them really attractive, please check my blog and follow if you like it.
    http://adarshbadri.com/blog/
    I write articles related to Indian lifestyle, society, fashion-trend, youth (lol! relationships too), politics and everything concerning India. Please read them and leave your comments.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s