The Moru Kootan, is also known as Moru Curry, Moru Ozhicha Kootan, Moru Paarna Kootan accross the culinary terrain in Kerala.
The variation of this yogurt curry start with the basic sour beaten buttermilk and in its basic 'cooked' version starts with a Pulisseri. Buttermilk, cooked with turmeric and salt with a tempering of cummin, mustard, fenugreek, chillies, garlic, curry leaves and ayamodakam/ajwain.
Moru Kootan starts with additions ranging from the cumin seed, coriander, grated coconut, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, Fenugreek seeds .... and from a plain curry to one with ash gourd, okra, taro roots, cucumber and mangoes. The basic tempering is : mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves with a pinch of asafoetida. Additional variations include finely chopped small red onions/shallots, finely chopped garlic, and cumin seeds.
This curry would contain vegetables, especially Ash Gourd and Pumpkin. Others with vegetables like Chinese Long beans/Indian Long beans, flat blean, drumsticks, drumstick leaves etc. will have specific names. Kachiya Moru, Pulisseri is the base, which involves heating sour buttermilk with turmeric and tempering it with spices. This is used both as a soothing soup, summertime drink and as a curry. The word, Kuzhambu is used in Tamil cuisine. The Northern varieties include the Kadhi, with the addition of besan [chickpea flour] to thicken the curry and the one's like the Curry Burry that travelled the migrant route.
A traditional accompaniment to this curry would be a spicy dry vegetable dish- upperi [ thoran in other parts] like Brinjal, Okra, Taro root, Jackfruit seeds, Elephant Yams, several varieties of dried legumes cooked with chillies and spicy wild mushroom curry during thunderstorms. A fried curd-chilli [kondatta-mulagu] Urad dal pappadums and the traditional mango pickle-in-brine Mulagu Manga round up a satisfying lunch or dinner during a hot summer day!
Dinner Tonight: Rice, Moru Kootan, Okra fry, Mulagu Manga, Fried Curd-Chillies!
The traditional Valluvanad version uses:
Kumbalan/ Kumbalanga/Elavan/ Ash Gourd/Winter Melon
Green Chillies/ Red Chillies
Dried Red Chillies
Pinch of roasted fengreek powder
Cube the Winter melon, Boil with turmeric powder and salt until cooked, not mushy.
Grind the coconut, cumin and green chillies/ red chillies into a fine paste. If you have one of the Indian 'mixie's', then nothing like it! Go ahead and grind it to the consistency you like
Moi ground the paste on a North-Indian pink sandstone grind-stone, added the buttermilk to the paste and gave it a turn in my Cuisinart blender. The American blenders do not grind the coconut well. Grating the coconut, instead of cutting the pieces and prior-grinding on the stone, made the gravy smooth.
Add this paste to the boiled winter melon on a simmer and then let it come up to a genlte simmer. Immediately take off the heat.
Heat the oil, temper with mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves and a pinch of fenugreek powder.