Pattypan Kootu

My friend Patty came home for dinner over the Fourth of July weekend, and I thought I’d have some pun fun by making her a Pattypan Kootu with veggies straight from my yard.

This spring, I picked up the plant at my local nursery simply because I got a kick out of the pictures of aliens with the name “flying saucer squash” emblazoned on the tag. I had seen this really cute-looking veggie before at the store, but never picked it up because honestly I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

But when my plant grew to elephantine proportions by early summer and began shooting out plump, star-shaped, yellow-green fruit faster than I could say “unidentified flying object,” I had to learn, and fast.

Google told me that pattypan are rather like zucchini, and indeed they are, with sweet, pristine-white flesh that can be eaten raw in salads but is also great cooked. It was particularly, meltingly delicious in this healthy kootu.

A kootu, to give you a quick backgrounder, is a homey south Indian dish that typically features a veggie cooked in lentils. You are not likely to run into it at Indian restaurants in the United States, which tend to either serve north Indian food or more popular south Indian dishes like dosas and idlis and sambar. If you’ve never eaten a kootu (which can be made with all kinds of veggies, including leafies), it’s worth the trouble of making it at home because it is, quite simply, delicious.

To the uninitiated, a kootu might sound a lot like a sambar or kuzhambu, but here’s the difference: kootu tends to be a thicker, coconutty version of a sambar, and the masala is slightly (but crucially) different from the one you’d use for a sambar. Also, a kootu does not typically contain tamarind, a key ingredient in lots of south Indian cooking and particularly in sambar.

Patty loved the Pattypan Kootu, and so did Desi, so I guess I have a keeper recipe on hand, and a keeper veggie. Next, I might try my alien squash in some Pattypan Bread, a twist on my Zucchini Bread, always a popular summer recipe both at my home and on the blog.

Enjoy, all!

Pattypan (Flying Saucer Squash) Kootu


2 medium pattypan squash, diced into very small cubes (about 1 cm)

3/4 cup tuvar dal (yellow split peas)

1 sprig curry leaves (optional)

1 tbsp mustard seeds

1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil

Salt to taste

For masala:

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp blackgram dal (udad dal)

1 tbsp chana dal (Bengalgram dal)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 cup shredded coconut

2-3 dry red chilies

1 tbsp black peppercorns

1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil

Pressure-cook the split yellow peas until mashably soft. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, use a saucepan and enough water to cover the lentils by about 2 inches. The lentils should take about 45 minutes to become mashably soft. Check often and stir to ensure that the water hasn’t evaporated or the lentils will burn. Add more water if needed).

Fry masala ingredients in a teaspoon of oil. When the dals turn golden, remove to a blender and grind into a smooth paste along with coconut.

Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil and add mustard seeds and curry leaves, if using.

Add the pattypan squash and stir-fry for about five minutes or until it starts to get tender.

Add the ground masala and the cooked split peas and stir well.

Add more water if the kootu is too thick and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the flavors have blended together and the squash is very tender.

Add salt to taste.

Serve hot with rice and papads.

For more kootu love, check out my Cabbage Kootu.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    O yum!!!! Can’t wait to try this. There is something totally satisfying about cooking with produce from your garden.

  2. says

    Your kootu looks delicious! Have never heard of pattypan squash before, I love their UFO shape. Sounds like they grow in abundance similar to my experience with growing zucchini’s a couple of years ago.

  3. says

    Tibik, It definitely is– one of the reasons I look forward to summer!

    Priya, Thanks!

    VegSpinz, they taste great! I am kicking myself I didn’t try these before.

    Anthony, Yes, it is a dal with vegetables, but the masala makes all the difference.

    Mel, yes, they are a lot like zucchini, both the rate at which they grow and taste, but they are also really cute to look at. :)

    Divya, Thanks!

  4. says

    Richa, yeah, it would be so great to have some real south Indian options while eating out. I am really tired of ordering the same old same old chana masalas and baingan bhartas and aloo gobis.

  5. says

    So that’s what they are! I got one from our local organic farm we get our veggies from and two weeks later, it is still in the fridge. Thank you for this delicious recipe Vaishali. I can finally use the squash now.

  6. says

    I very distinctly remember seeing this veggie at a local farm here and I thought it was some kind of squash but never really bothered to buy and make something with it, as I didnt know what it would be like!Kootu I can definitely make now as I love kootu with any veggies. And lol at the pun 😀

  7. says

    One other question–if there was one or two indian cookbooks (vegan or veganizable) that you would recommend, what would they be???

  8. says

    One other question–if there was one or two indian cookbooks (vegan or veganizable) that you would recommend, what would they be???

  9. says

    DesiSoccerMom, This is definitely a good one to sacrifice that Pattypan for. :)

    Hemalata, Manju, Divya, Thanks!

    K, This would be great with zucchini. Hope you like it!

  10. says

    Holy Cow! I just found your blog and I love it! I can wait to try some of your recipes.
    Thank you for sharing, your thoughts, your recipes and your hubby’s photos!

  11. says

    Cute site! Yummy pics! And your not-just-salad approach to veganism is awesome! Who knows? Maybe I’ll make the leap from veg to vegan one of these days 😉

    Def. if you keep making such yummy food! Now, if I could only find a vegan substitute for yogurt and ice cream (and honey?)…then I’d be set :)

  12. says

    Golly, this was delicious. Couldn’t get pattypan but used zucchini. Have seen recipes with lentil-for-seasoning in the masala, was the first time I used it. Wow the sauce was terrific. Was not sure; used half yellow, half black mustard seeds.
    This is a wonderful dish, I bet the udad and chana helped it greatly.

    Thank You.

  13. says

    Anthony, thanks for the feedback, and glad you liked it! Zucchini is a good substitute for the pattypan. And it is always black mustard seeds in Indian cuisine– although yellow would be fine too. :)

  14. says

    Hi Vaishali, first time around on your blog and loved it. I love your strong conviction about being a vegan. Keep it up . Will visit again.:))

  15. prabha says

    hai, this is the first time i’ve seen a pattypan. Do you have to peel the skin off and use the veggie or can it be chopped with the skin. For squash like butternut.or yellow summer squash, i usually discard the skin but i cook zuchini with the skin

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