It’s the summer. It’s hot, humid and hot, especially here in Hong Kong. So could be better than having some nice, juicy, cooling glorious watermelon! Make a smoothie, have a watermelon feta salad (which we did), or just have it plain (which we also did), but when all the fruit is gone, you are left with the rind – that the white bit between the sweet, red watermelon flesh, and the hard, dark green outer skin. Do not throw them away! The rind has a sweet mellow taste of its own, and I’ve been told its jam-packed with vitamins, like Vit C and B. In any case, its also a great way to save on cost as you get to make the most of that giant watermelon.
We’ve used the leftover rind to make a hearty stew, a south indian dish called Kootu. Coot means ‘add’ in Tamil as it usually refers to a creamy stew made with vegetables added to lentils. In this case, we used the rinds. This kootu is perfect with rice, or even warm idlis (south indian rice and lentil cakes) and it isn’t hard to make at all.
- 3/4 - 1 cup split moong dhal (these can be left to soak an hour ahead if you have the time)
- 3 cups chopped watermelon rind (can be left to soak in salted water of an hour if you have the time)
- 1 tsp idli podi (optional)
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 ground pepper
- 1/8 (a pinch) of asafoetida powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- For tempering
- 1 medium green chili, sliced
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp split urad dal/black lentils
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup curry leaves (keep some for garnish)
- Place the lentils and watermelon rind in the pressure cooker (If you had soaked them beforehand, make sure you drain and thoroughly rinse them first).
- Add the chili powder, podi (if using), turmeric, pepper, asafoetida and salt and mix well.
- Pour in enough water to just cover the lentils and rind and give the mixture a good stir. Cover the pressure cooker and cook for 10 minutes. The lentils and rind should be cooked through and soft, but not mushy.
- Using an immersion blender, blitz the content just enough so that half of the lentils have been pureed, while the other half remains nice and chunky.
- Return the pan to the heat and simmer on medium, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, stirring every now and then to prevent the kootu from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
- Once the mixture has thickened, add the coconut milk and stir. Taste and add more salt if needed. Allow kootu to simmer for another couple of minutes.
- While waiting for the kootu to thicken, heat oil in a separate pan. When hot, add the mustard seeds (be careful as the oil might splatter and the seeds will pop).
- Lower the heat and once the popping has slowed, add the rest of the tempering ingredients and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Add the tempered spiced and oil into the kootu mixture, stir and it is ready!
- Garnish with fresh curry leaves and serve warm with fluffy rice. We also served ours with some crunchy potato vadas or potato cakes.
No pressure cooker? No pressure!
We use a pressure cooker here as it seriously speeds up cooking time, but you can make this without one, just replace the pressure cooker with a regular heavy bottom pan and cook the lentils and rind for about 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring every now and them to prevent sticking, until the lentils and rind are cooked and soft. Then just remove the cover and proceed from step #4