South Indian Okra Kootu
1 pound small okra, ends trimmed, cut into 3/4" pieces (3-4 cups of pieces)
6 Tbsp moong dal
2 tsp rice bran or other high-heat oil3 red chiles, or to taste
2 tsp bengal gram dal
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp urid dal
healthy pinch asafetida
4 Tbsp shredded dried coconut
2 tsp Sucanat (or jaggery)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp rice bran or other high-heat oil
1 tsp black mustard seed
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1 Roma tomato, chopped, or a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Cut okra into small pieces. Set aside.
Boil moong dal in a partially covered pot with 2 cups water until softened and beginning to break down, about 20 minutes.
In a small saucepan, heat 2 tsp rice bran oil over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add red chiles. When one side is brown, flip the chiles. Add bengal gram dal, stirring to coat with oil. When dal is beginning to brown, add urid dal, peppercorns and asafetida. Be cautious; peppercorns may burst. When urid dal is beginning to brown, add coconut. Stir just until beginning to brown; remove from heat. Scrape browned spices into a small blender jar; process with up to 4 Tbsp water until smooth.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add mustard seed; quickly cover. When seeds stop popping, add okra. Cook, stirring, until okra is no longer sticky and has browned in places but is still bright green, about 8 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups water, spice paste, salt, and jaggery. Boil 5-10 minutes, or until okra is soft. When dal is cooked, add it to the kootu, stirring well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat; add tomatoes and cilantro. Serve with pongal or basmati rice.